La calle Preciados
Its name comes from the fact that the Preciado brothers used to live there, who worked as civil servants that used to check and spy on the irregularities that took place in the markets, an old figure that was common in the Arab souks. The word in Spanish is almotacén, of Arabic origin, which sounds like almacén – warehouse, which is relevant because this house held one of the most famous department stores in Spain of the 20th century, Galerías Preciados, who opened their doors in 1943. Their central location soon turned it into a favourite street among locals who began to enjoy higher purchasing power from the 1960s onwards, which influenced the pedestrianisation of the area a decade later.
The first stretch of the street, the one that is born on Santo Domingo, is almost exclusively dedicated to gastronomic offer. The visitor can find fast food restaurants in the different free buffet places at good prices, as well as traditional cuisine in restaurants such as Asador de Aranda, which specialises in Castilian cuisine and suckling pig.
In the second stretch, leaving the square to our left, is the impressive building of Callao, with a fine and modern outline that makes it hard to believe that it was built in the early 1940s. Its author was the eclectic architect Gutíerrez Soto, who is also the ‘father’ of other emblematic parts of the district such as Bar Chicote and Cine Callao, of modernist style. The Callao building used to hold the aforementioned Galerías Preciados, today owned by the Corte Inglés group, who later paved the way for the current tenant, FNAC.
Among the different fast fashion shops and others like Camper or Swatch are some older surviving ones, such as the toy shop Sanatorio de Juguetes, on the first floor of number 19 Calle Preciados, considered the oldest toy shop in Madrid, open since 1916.
A street of contrasts, since its important commercial and consumerist offer -before reaching Sol are two Corte Inglés buildings- is combined with the presence of many different NGOs that try to get affiliates to register for their causes. They are part of the human landscape of this famous artery in Madrid, the one chosen by different televisions to carry out surveys on current affairs. These are elements that once the visitor reaches the Puerta del Sol, where our Hotel Victoria 4 is located, will make him breathe and feel a happy relief.