Despite being a large city with more than 3.5 million residents, Madrid preserves its essence in a very special way. We can still see small businesses surviving in spite of big chains, older people sitting in the plazas passing the time, or people dressed in the traditional “chulapo” suit.
Today we’d like to talk about one of the places that makes Madrid such a special city: the Convent of Carboneras Corpus Christi. Believe it or not, this convent, located right in the middle of Madrid Old Town, is still home to cloistered nuns who are forever forbidden to leave the convent. They can’t even have contact with the outside world. According to Catholic tradition, the purpose of a cloistered life is seclusion, prayer and being closer to God.
Buy Traditional Sweets Made by Nuns
One of the ways the nuns have found to survive is by selling sweets they make themselves. Today, we’re going to tell you what you need to do, step by step, in order to buy these sweets.
There’s a problem – as we said, the nuns can’t have contact with the outside world. So… how do you buy their sweets? Don’t worry, the nuns have it all figured out.
1. Ring the doorbell
When you arrive at the convent, ring the doorbell and the nuns will open the door from the inside.
2. Walk to the interior patio
Once the door is open, go to the lovely patio inside, where there is a wooden revolving window or “torno”.
3. Place your order
You should go up to the torno, place your order and insert the money. A nun will give you your sweets from the other part of the window. In this way, the nuns don’t have direct contact with the outside world.
4. Mission Accomplished!
The Convent and its sweets
This convent, located between the iconic Puerta del Sol and the majestic Palacio Real, was built in the early 17th century. In that era, many convents and monasteries were founded by nobility and kings to prove their religious devotion and, of course, their power. This convent was founded by Beatriz Ramirez de Mendoza, one of the ladies of Queen Anne of Austria.
There is a centuries-old tradition of making confectioneries in Spanish convents. In fact, many traditional Spanish sweets have their roots in convents. A beautiful tradition influenced the activities of the nuns. In the past, brides in small villages would donate eggs to the convents so that it wouldn’t rain on their wedding day. This caused the nuns to have an enormous quantity of eggs, and they started to make sweets to make the most of them. In any case, they say that the secret of these sweets is in the nuns’ love and care.
In the 19th century, the nuns began to sell their sweets as a way to be self-sufficient and obtain the necessary resources to preserve the building. And the most incredible part is that today, right in Madrid’s city center, you can buy these sweets, handmade by nuns.
On our Madrid Free Walking Tour, we’ll visit this convent and you’ll have a chance to see how the nuns in this convent live. You might not be able to resist, and end up buying some sweets! 😉
Address: Convento de las Carboneras del Corpus Christi, 28005 Madrid
Price: Apprx 10€ per box