Although construction work on the Palacio de la Bolsa began in 1842, the history of the Spanish stock market goes back a few years earlier. The first attempt to establish a stock exchange in Spain was made by José Bonaparte in 1809, but his efforts were derailed by the war against the French. So, it wasn’t until the reign of Fernando VII that the stock exchange in Madrid was founded, in 1831.
Back then, from its first location in the convent and church of San Felipe el Real, the headquarters of the stock exchange moved constantly for more than 50 years until its current site was built. The stock exchange’s headquarters were previously also located in other places such as the Circo Equestre on Calle Barquillo, the Customs House, and the Café del Espejo.
In the past, the stock exchange was a crowded, smoke-filled place flooded with the voices of brokers standing elbow-to-elbow amid a perpetual flurry of paper in constant motion. This atmosphere gradually disappeared due to various factors such as the disappearance of physical securities and the reform of the securities market in 1989, which introduced far-reaching changes in the Spanish stock market.
Although the Madrid Stock Exchange building no longer presents the typical image of exchange and stock-market brokers buying and selling shares on the trading floor, it nonetheless retains the function for which it was built, because it is the headquarters of Bolsas y Mercados Espanoles (BME), the operator of the Spanish stock exchanges.