REMEMBERING THE PAST
TO LOOK TOWARDS THE FUTURE

The city block defined by Alcalá and Sevilla streets and the Carrera de San Jerónimo have always been sociable,
dynamic and bustling spaces in Madrid. A privileged zone of the city whose chronicle narrates one of the most
memorable pages of the construction of Madrid. Therefore, knowing the evolution of this urban space means knowing
the story of the city and its inhabitants.

CONSTRUCTING
THE NEW MADRID

Between 1867 and 1885, the City Hall implemented a process of redevelopment of the centre of Madrid to adapt it to the new needs of vehicular traffic and to bring some of the streets up to the standards of a European capital.

To resolve the intersection with Príncipe and De la Cruz streets, Plaza de las Cuatro Calles, currently Plaza Canalejas and today the site of Centro Canalejas Madrid, was created.

This operation, undertaken several years after the transformation of the Puerta del Sol, represented an additional step in the process of dignifying the historic centre, which was epitomised by the opening of the Gran Vía in 1910.

 
  • Alcalá 14
  • Canalejas 1
  • Alcalá 12
  • Alcalá 10
  • Alcalá 8
  • Alcalá 6
  • Alcalá 14

A FEAST
FOR THE EYES

Carriages, trolleys and cars for decades streamed past the façade of this majestic building. Protagonist of the intersection of Alcalá and Sevilla, it got its name, Palacio de La Equitativa, from the important insurance company that commissioned its construction and established its headquarters there.

In January of 1887, work on the palace commenced, a commission awarded to José Grases Riera, a prolific Modernist architect of the day. The building was inaugurated in 1891 and became an architectural landmark in the capital, on the same level as the most important buildings of the era.

 

Within its historic walls, the Palacio de la Equitativa has been home to, besides the insurance company, the “El Heraldo” newspaper, whose salon represented the cultural clout of Madrid in that era, the Casino de Madrid, the most important shops, cafés and, starting in 1920, the Banco Español de Crédito, which acquired the building and made some changes to adapt it. These modifications and a second enlargement in 1945 were what tarnished its splendour, particularly that of the interior.

In the mid-1990s, it became the property of Banco Santander, which purchased the building in 1994 and undertook a new overall renovation to modernise the facilities and enlarge the offices to create open spaces where formerly none had existed.

  • Canalejas 1

THE LEGACY OF
A HISTORIC BANK

Presiding over the Plaza de Canalejas stands a stunning building, with a solid but elegant appearance, dating back to 1901, the year the bank commissioning its construction acquires the lot adjacent to La Equitativa. In 1902 construction begins under the direction of the architect Eduardo Adaro, who was well-known for having participated in the Banco de España project.

Gazing up at the front of the building, one contemplates a sophisticated sandstone façade and eclectic architecture that combines the Neo-Renaissance and Neo-Baroque styles, the result of Adaro's effort to fit in with the style of La Equitativa.

The building used to have a basement level where the safe deposit boxes were located, and on its main floors were the offices of the executives, in addition to some residences.

After the Civil War, some of the adjoining buildings were badly damaged. The Banco Hispano-Americano first acquired the building located at San Jerónimo 9, which it started to rebuild in 1940 with a façade that mimicked the existing one at Plaza de Canalejas 1, and later, in 1942, the building at Alcalá 14.

Architect Manuel Galíndez directed the work done between 1941 and 1944 to unify all the buildings, the result of which signified a break with the symmetrical scheme of the layout as well as the demolition of a good part of the interior galleries and the disappearance of the handsome banking hall. The only part of Adaro's building maintained was the façade, which was altered nonetheless.

 

In 1999 it was catalogued as a historic building by the Community of Madrid and, after a series of mergers between different financial institutions in the 90s, it was joined internally to the Palacio de la Equitativa, given that it formed part of the same property.

Lastly, the building fell into disuse in 2004, when the bank that owned it moved its offices to the outskirts of the city. Now it is slated to become, from the Plaza de Canalejas, the entrance to La Galería de Canalejas, the shopping area of Centro Canalejas Madrid.

  • Alcalá 12

ONE OF THE FINEST RESIDENTIAL
BUILDINGS IN MADRID

At number 12 of the traditional Calle Alcalá one of the finest residential buildings of Madrid in the late 19th century was built. This residential building, adjoining the Palacio de La Equitativa, was completed and occupied not long before the start of 1898. It had a very short life, but its façade successfully embodied the distinct personality of Madrid residential architecture, and its ground level housed thriving shops and businesses.

Among its many tenants, the sons of Cantabrian businessman and banker Enrique Sainz del Rivero are noteworthy for having made this building the headquarters of Banca Sainz, founded in 1920.

 

The Sainz firm disappeared in 1941 when its became part of Banco Hispano Americano, which acquired the building and that same year decided to construct another one in its place, with a new façade and joined internally with the other renovation project underway in the Banco Hispano Americano building.

At that moment, the aim was to erect a façade in the style of La Equitativa, but the result proved just the opposite: a bland classical façade, due to the severity of the totally unadorned vertical elements, which is the only part that has survived to this day.

  • Alcalá 10

WITH A TREASURE
BETWEEN ITS WALLS

The Civil War broke out in the midst of the construction of this building. In August 1936 the work began, only to be interrupted a few days later.

Architect Roberto García Ochoa, a frequent collaborator of Banco Zaragozano, had wanted to build one of the first skyscrapers in the city, but by the end of the conflict difficulties arose in achieving the projected height.

In January 1942, this Aragonese institution was inaugurated. It presented an imposing facade that provided an image of architectural modernity thanks to the extraordinary relief frieze by Marés and the stunning Art Deco ironwork and iron bars of the lobby. A style that was also reflected in the splendid glass skylight in the banking hall, which, like the other elements that have been restored, will be incorporated into the project.

 
  • Alcalá 8

FIRST-CLASS
ARCHITECTURAL
ECLECTICISM

In 1904 a businessman applied to the City Hall of Madrid for a municipal license to construct a building in which the street and mezzanine levels would be reserved for the Madrid branch of Crédit Lyonnais, with the rest of the floors being residential.

It wasn't until 1907 that Crédit Lyonnais moved into its brand new building designed by José Urioste y Velada. The architect demonstrated great eclecticism in his work, which drew on diverse compositional and decorative resources.

Each of its floors received a different architectural treatment, and the result was a dignified, finely wrought building that also has a façade facing the Carrera de San Jerónimo.

 
  • Alcalá 6

THE LAST ELEMENT
OF THE PROJECT

Given its growing importance, Banco Hispano Americano also acquired an old residential building from the 19th century. In its place, in 1975, a building designed by the bank's architects, Luciano Díaz Canedo and José María Chapa Galíndez, was erected.

Inspired by the façade of number 12 of Calle Alcalá, this building was the simplest of all those on the block, with a poor façade of little architectural interest.

 

THE CONDITION OF THE BUILDINGS
BEFORE CENTRO CANALEJAS MADRID

The passage of time, the varying uses of the buildings and the changes that these required progressively modified the interior of this architectural complex, obscuring the most striking features of its grandiose past.

Recovering that lost beauty is the main objective of Centro Canalejas Madrid. To do so, extensive research was done in order to preserve and restore the most important pieces and, to the extent possible, return them to their original locations.

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