If you stroll along the famous Gran Vía, between the bustle of the big stores, people gathered around the street shows and the majestic buildings that surround you, you might notice a little-known detail in front of Hyatt Centric Hotel: two arrows engraved on the ground.
They are not there by chance. They were shot by a mythical character not far from there, if you look up, you will see across the street, at number 31, the majestic Hyatt Centric hotel, adorned on its roof with a representation of the goddess Diana. Accompanied by her faithful hounds, emerging from the building’s turrets, she is both the goddess of hunting and nature, but also sometimes referred to as the goddess of the moon, as the twin sister of Apollo, the famous sun god.
Her presence at Hyatt Centric Hotelis no accident. She aims at the other side of the great avenue. For at number 32, the Madrid-Paris building, which today houses the Primark brand, is adorned with a young man and a phoenix.
But why does Diana attack these characters? To understand the scene, you need to know one of the myths surrounding this goddess. For Diana had fallen in love with Endymion, a young shepherd who, every night, after observing the sky, fell asleep under the stars. Therefore, the goddess of the moon could see him every night, being each time more amazed by his beauty. Unable to resist, one evening, she finally approached him, in order to admire him more closely. The next night, she came a little closer, and day after day even closer, lying next to him, sometimes kissing him. Until one night, Endymion woke up. Himself under the charm of the goddess, he confessed his feelings to her, and they promised each other eternal love.
But Endymion being a simple man, and so a mortal, this promise could not really be kept. Diane decided to ask for help from her father, Zeus, king of the gods, in order to make their union immortal. Her father refused at first, but then accepted under one condition: Endymion had to be plunged into an eternal sleep every day, and could only wake up at night, thereby guaranteeing his immortality. Diana and Endymion lived happily together, and legend has it that they even had 50 children.
A mythological love story with a happy ending… It was too good to be true. In Madrid, this one was reinvented to explain this battle between the two buildings of the Gran Vía. Zeus, still not approving of this union, would have decided to send a phoenix to kidnap Endymion and prevent it from happening. That’s why we can now see Diana trying to save her lover, attacking the phoenix with her arrows. But the first two missed their targets, and hit the ground of the Gran Vía. That’s why you can see them engraved on the sidewalk today.
Being a fan of mythology and admirer of the figure of Diana, it was the owner of Hyatt Centric Hotel himself who would have commissioned the representation of Diana and her 5 dogs to the sculptor Natividad Sánchez in 2016, and imagined this legend in order to connect the history of the two buildings facing each other. For indeed, the Madrid-Paris building also has a fascinating history. Created in the 1920s, it used to house shopping galleries, but above all, from 1934, the insurance company “El Fénix y la Unión”, explaining the presence of the bird rising from its ashes on its roof. But before moving to these new premises on Gran Vía, the company had first imposed its phoenix on another famous building of modern Madrid in 1911: the Metropolis, which has now become a must-see on Calle de Alcalá !
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