In 2007, the prestigious Cervantes Institute, whose purpose is to promote and teach the Spanish language throughout the world, opened its headquarters in the former Rio de la Plata Bank building in Madrid, designed by the renowned Spanish architect Antonio Palacios and inaugurated in 1918.
At the time, customers’ fortunes—often in the form of gold bars earned from doing business across the Atlantic—were stored in safe-deposit boxes, hundreds of which line the walls of the building’s underground vault. The magnificent armored vault was (and still is) accessed through a circular opening protected by a 7-ton door. Today, these giant doors lead to the Caja de las Letras (Vault of Letters), a unique time capsule of Hispanic culture.
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