Preciados Street in Madrid: The origin of the name

By | 10 April, 2014 | 0 comments

Balanza antigua, instrumento de los almotacenes

Located in the heart of Madrid, between Plaza del Callao and the Puerta del Sol, tens of thousands of people walk through Calle Preciados every day. This is perhaps the busiest shopping street in the centre of Madrid and also the most expensive one: it occupies the #5 spot in the world ranking of streets with the highest rent price and it is located just fifty yards from our hotel.

However, few know the origin of its name. The street pays tribute to the Preciado brothers, who were beloved by the people of Madrid thanks to their excellent work as civil servants.

Our history goes back many centuries, back to 1490, when there was still a royal country house in this area that the monarchs used for leisure and recreation.

Back then, there were a large variety of currencies, a legacy from the different kingdoms that coexisted in the previous decades in the middle of the Iberian Peninsula. To this complexity there was the added problem that the weight and measure units were not standardised, so there were considerable differences between a fanega (unit measure) from Madrid and a fanega from Toledo, for example.

So how did the people understand each other?

They called upon the almotacén, a person who was essential for the understanding of the parties during commercial transactions since he was the one who examined the measuring items to guarantee that they had not been tampered with. He also checked the authenticity of coins and used to mediate to clarify the weight of different Spanish units, such as the arroba, the quintal, the celemín, the azumbre or the fanega.

The Preciado brothers shared this job and performed it with special neatness and honesty, which earned them the respect and esteem from the area’s traders. They also contributed to the Spanish currency reform of 1397 and to the creation of a unified measuring system. They built themselves a house each on this street, so people started calling it the “street of the Preciados”, which today is abbreviated to “Calle de Preciados”.

We finish with a phrase from the local reporter from back then, Pedro de Répide, who refers to the denomination of this street like this: “From such protective men of the good people, it is good that memory has endured, since the example did not remain”.

In more recent times, Calle Preciados also gave us the name of the old Galerías Preciados, one of the most popular department stores in Spain in the second half of the 20th century, until it was acquired by another department-store chain, El Corte Inglés, who now occupies a building in this great shopping artery of Madrid.

The proximity of our hotel to the shops and department stores of Calle Preciados makes Liabeny one of the most convenient hotels for going shopping in Madrid.

Photo (CC) Procsilas Moscas – Flickr

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Categories: Madrid Diversión, Madrid Turismo

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