Fifty years ago, there were more than 40 monasteries in Seville. But being non is no longer the most attractive job among the young Sevillans, their number has decreased recently and continues to decline.
Moreover, their monasteries, although incredibly beautiful, are quite expensive in maintenance. Most are at least a few hundred years old and urgently need a refurbishment. Today there are only 15 left. They don't all sell dulces and sweets, but for most it is an important source of income. It is very interesting to visit a monastery once, not only do you taste the delicious cookies, but at the same time help you keep a part of the history of Seville alive!
Why do the nuns sell confectionery?
The nuns sell their homemade sweets here to help them maintain their maintenance and live in the monasteries with the money collected. Many monasteries are forced to close because they cannot pick up the money to continue.
Fifty years ago, Seville had 41 monasteries, of which only fifteen are left. Many have been abandoned or forced into offices, museums or evenementenruimtes. By buying these homemade sweets from the nuns, you get the chance to support them. The recipes they use have been passed on for hundreds of years and are really typical authentic Spanish desserts.
Different types of buying experiences
The first experience you can have when buying nuns is hot behind closed doors. This is the traditional way to do the sale, because nuns often keep themselves hidden from the public. In this method there is a Susan-type turntable, also called a torno. This table is used to transport things back and forth between you and the non. You talk and do all the exchanges through the torno and never see the face of the non. It all happens on the honor system, which makes it even more special to join.
Another way that nuns often use is called Face-to-face. This is the more modern way to do the sale. Some open it all and show the sweets before you buy them. Others use a more liberal sort of torno with the ability to be completely open or closed during the purchase.
The last way is called Storefront. This is a typical store situation where you buy items from an employee at a cash register. There are no nuns involved.
The monasteries themselves are often beautiful to see, but you also want to go in to taste the confectionery and to see how it works, then that is possible. Below are the most beautiful and famous monasteries, where you can also read for which confectionery they are known. So come to Seville and discover this side of beautiful history!
Opening times monasteries
Convento Madre de Dios: Calle San José, 4 | 10:00-13:30 (closed Sunday)
The naranjitos sevillanos should not be missed: A ball of nutty marzipan with a little glazed orange directly from the cloister garden
Convento Santa Paula: Calle Sta. Paula, 11 | 10.00-13.00 hrs, 16.30-18.30 hrs (closed Sunday)
The Santa Paula Monastery is famous throughout Seville for its homemade marmalade, all available for around €5. Don't miss their orange blossom jam!
This is a face-to-face monastery and at an additional cost you can also visit the Nonnen Museum.
Convento de Santa Ana: Calle Santa Ana, 34 | 10.00-13.00, 17.00-18.00 (open every day, also on Sundays)
This order of Carmelite arrived in Seville for the first time in 1594 and got their own monastery a few decades later!
Buying these monastery sweets can be tricky, but worth it. First you have to find the secret cookie door (not easy). Follow the signs to the dulces de covnento and don't worry if "Carmelitas" is marked instead of "Santa Ana".
Buzz the intercom and tell the nuns why you are there. They let you in, where you approach the torno (this is the classical, never-see-a-nun style of the monastery). From that moment on you have to ask the nuns personally what they have! There is no menu, so you buy what the nuns have freshly baked.
Convento de Santa Inés: Calle Doña María Coronel, 5 | 9.00-13.00 hrs, 16.00-18.00 hrs (Closed Sunday)
They are especially popular during Easter, but you can visit them at any time of the year to taste their confectionery, and be very happy.
Convento de San Clemente: Calle Reposo, 9 | 10.00-13.00, 16.45-18.00 (Monday-Friday), 16.00-18.00 (Saturday), 10.00-11.00 (Sunday)
The pinonades (balls of marzipan covered with pine nuts) are almost sunny. Although you have to call the intercom to enter, everything happens face-to-face here.
Convento de Santa María de Jesús: Calle Águilas, 22 |
The sweets are typically sevillano, you can buy delicious Magdalena's and great marzipan
Convento San Leandro: Plaza San Ildefonso, 1 | 9.00-13.00 hrs, 17.00-19.00 hrs (closed Sunday)
Known for their popular 'yemas': Egg yolks baked in a knob of sugar. It has an egg-like, sweet taste.