The Edificio Metrópolis (Metropolis Building) is an important landmark in Madrid, Spain. It is on the corner of Calle Alcalá and Gran Vía, both of which are major thoroughfares in Madrid. The French architects Jules and Raymond Février won a contest for the commission of the building’s design and began construction in 1907. By then Jules Février had already made a name for himself by constructing many buildings in Paris, including the gothic mansion in Paris, the Hôtel Gaillard. The Metropolis Building was one of his last, and arguably his best, being christened in January 1911.
The building was built in the beaux-arts style, championed by the academies in Paris for quite some time. Allegorical statues depicting trade, agriculture, industry, and mining capitalize the corinthian columns and flank three arched windows.
The Metropolis Building unofficially marks the beginning of the Gran Vía, one of the most beautiful and busy streets in Madrid. Gran Vía cuts through the heart of Madrid and remains a top tourist destination for its shopping, bustle, and architectural grandeur. While there is nothing subtle about this street, it is not at all intimidating; it is as if the outstretched appendages of the Winged Victory statue atop the Metropolis dome is an invitation to venture down Gran Vía.
The welcoming statue, however, wasn’t always present. The original statue depicted the Greek hero Ganymede and a phoenix (the latter was a symbol of the initial owners of the building, Unión y el Fenix Español). Ganymede is commonly shown alongside an eagle, so it is interesting that Ganymede would be shown with another mythic bird. At any rate, it is not entirely clear why, in the 1970s, the original statue was replaced with the current one. Some sources contend that the sculpture wasn’t included in the sale when the building was sold in the 1970s.
Towering above like an idol, the Metropolis Building commands pause and admiration from passersby. One can only hope that the days witnessing the physical presence of this jewel are numerous, as the memory of the building’s beauty, while indelible, is never completely satisfying.