Instituto Cervantes

Banco Español del Río de la Plata

The emblem of culture in Spanish across the world

The old Spanish Bank of the Río de la Plata chose for the building of its headquarters a magnificent site at the intersection of the streets of Alcalá and Barquillo and for this it recruited two of the best architects of the time, Palacios and Otamendi. The great symbolic significance of the building was highlighted in the central operations patio, which spanned the height of all the floors and was finished off inside with a magnificent stained glass dome. In the surrounding area, the bank’s different offices opened around the perimeter of the building.

The transformations undertaken in the 1940s to expand the building, then the headquarters of the Central Bank, led to the disappearance of this grandiose central space; the façade of the new extension to the north imitated without mimicking the building style of Palacios and Otamendi. Recently, and as a consequence of the history of monopolisation by the banks over the past twenty years, the building was acquired by the Madrid City Council to house some of the municipal offices. Today it is occupied by the headquarters of the Instituto Cervantes.

Banco Español del Río de la Plata photograph