This road was built at the end of the 1950s (when Santiago was starting to become popular as a tourist destination) in order to make it easier for the city´s numerous visitors to access the centre of the old town: the Cathedral. The remodelling of this area, which was entrusted to the architects Albert Viaplana and Helio Piñón and was completed in 1994, resolved the requirements of traffic access, the need for parking space for cars and coaches and also established an interesting dialogue between the new elements and the monumental pieces of the convent buildings of San Francisco and San Martín Pinario, which make up the avenue´s perspective background. This project, now fully integrated into the residents´ mental landscape of their city, was highly controversial at the time, due to its bold contrast between modernity and monumentality.
The complex´s main feature is a gigantic canopy with conical steel columns and a glass roof, which shelters pedestrians as they walk towards the old town. It gradually gets lower along its extensive length towards the stone mass of San Francisco, thereby intensifying the effect of penetrating the old town.
From Avenida de Xoán XXIII we have a view of `Val de Deus´ (Valley of God), which runs down towards the River Sarela, the Vista Alegre neighbourhood and Monte Pedroso.
The corner formed by the avenue and the convents of San Francisco and San Martiño marks the beginning of the picturesque `Coasta Vella´ (Old Hill), facing the sunset, which runs perpendicularly at the top with the streets Porta da Pena (or `Puerta de la Peña´ in Spanish, in memory of the north `puerta´ or gate in the old city walls, the same as the neighbouring Atalaia or Watchtower, one of the medieval town´s defensive features) and Loureiros (`laureles´ in Spanish), which is still bordered by some laurels, thus explaining the street´s name.
Although the buildings in this street share the same characteristics of Compostela´s traditional architecture –based on the triad formed by the granite of the walls, the wood of the woodwork and interior structures and the iron of the balconies- they have their own personality. The galleries, present in many buildings, are mainly used, in a rainy and damp climate like Compostela´s, as a sun trap in order to heat the houses.