Buying Cookies from Nuns in Sevilla, Our Strangest Experience Yet

You Can Buy Boxes of Cookies from Nuns in Spain!

You Can Buy Boxes of Cookies from Nuns in Spain!

I grew up in Kansas and call Seattle my home, so nun sightings aren’t something I’m very much accustomed to. A couple days ago, Kevin and I were standing in line to visit the Alcazar here in Sevilla, and a van full of nuns came driving across the plaza! Nuns! Driving a van! I’ve seen nuns driving minivans in movies (I didn’t grow up in a barn… I clearly saw Sister Act and its sequel), but something about seeing nuns driving a minivan in real life struck me as so surprising that I couldn’t help but laugh. The next day, we saw a minivan with eight nuns (eight!) driving down our street. Chuckles ensued. And my affection for nuns was born.

So you can imagine that I was delighted when I learned that it’s possible to buy cookies and sweets from nuns at a few different convents around Sevilla. We visited the one nearest our apartment, Real Monasterio de San Clemente, to get our goods.

So, How Does One Buy Cookies from Said Nuns?

It was trickier than I thought it’d be to get convent cookies. We stopped by San Clemente twice to try, and the outer gate was closed both times. I was afraid that my dream of buying cookies from nuns in Sevilla was dead. So I did what any person trying to buy convent cookies in the 21st century would do – I emailed the convent using my stellar new Spanish skills (assisted by Google Translate, of course).

Look for a Sign like This When You're Trying to Seek out Convent Cookies

Look for a Sign like This When You’re Trying to Seek out Convent Cookies

I was surprised to receive an extremely prompt, very friendly email response from Sister Claudia. She informed me that you have to buzz the outermost intercom to get in, and ended our correspondence by sending me God’s Blessings. I exchanged email with a nun, in Spanish. I can check that off of my bucket list.

So we headed back over to San Clemente, buzzed the outside buzzer, and I used my best Spanish to tell the Sister on the speaker that I wanted to buy some sweets. She gave us a bunch of instructions in Spanish that flew WAY over our heads. We walked into the courtyard and there were like eight doors to choose from! Somehow we managed to find our way.

If you're in San Clemente, this is the WRONG door. Do not pick this door.

If you’re inside San Clemente, this is the WRONG door. Do not pick this door.

This is the right door at San Clemente. I think it was a miracle we found the sweets.

This is the right door at San Clemente. I think it was a miracle we found the sweets.

We happened to pick Door #3, which was the correct one leading to the Torno! What’s a Torno? I’m glad you asked. It’s basically a giant lazy susan mounted in a wall, through which the nuns sell their cookies and sweets.

The San Clemente Torno

The San Clemente Torno. It can be closed off so that you can’t see the nuns, but today’s nun wasn’t shy. We talked to her directly through the bars.

A Torno enables nuns to sell things while protecting their cloistered privacy – in many cases, you’ll never even see the nun helping you! I’ve read that lots of convents have stopped selling cookies; it seems like it’s a dying tradition. So if you’re in Spain and see a convent selling sweets through a Torno, be sure to stop by for some cookies while you still can!

Waiting for Our Convent Cookies

Waiting for Our Convent Cookies

Next to the Torno is a list of prices. Tell the Sister what you’d like, and the lazy susan will whip around with the things you’ve asked for. Grab the sweets, lay down your money, and send it back around. If you need change, it’ll come back to you in a moment. And voila! Magic! Cookies from the nuns.

Convent Cookie Prices

Convent Cookie Prices

Why Buy Cookies from Nuns?

If you scrutinized that list, you’ll notice the prices (in euros) are a little bit steep. It’s far more than the 1 Euro we’ve gotten use to paying at our neighborhood bakery for a cookie the size of my face. Just remember, this is a way that the community can support the local convents. It’s sort of like buying cookies/popcorn/wrapping paper from kids to support Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts/Church Groups in the USA. It’s also a fun adventure!

What did we buy?

We snagged a box of Pastas de Almendra (almond cookies) and a box of Piñonadas (pine nut cookies).

Almond Cookies and Pine Nut Cookies

Almond Cookies and Pine Nut Cookies

We liked the almond cookies the most.

Pastas de Almendras

Pastas de Almendras

While they definitely weren’t the best cookies in the entire world, I’ve been telling myself that I’m really just paying for the experience, especially as a tourist. Plus, where else can you buy cookies with a cartoon of a nun on them?

Nun Cookies

Nun Cookies

The verdict? I’m glad we went!

7 thoughts on “Buying Cookies from Nuns in Sevilla, Our Strangest Experience Yet

  1. Oh Mel! I Love this story! I have always been fascinated by nuns and convents! When I was very young, we used to spend summers in Emporia where my Dad was working on his Masters Degree. We lived across the street from a tennis court where some Nuns from St Mary’s Hospital used to come and play “handball tennis”. We used to play with them, and they were always so nice and it was so fun to watch them run around the court in their full length habits. I wanted to be a nun for a long time after that, and wanted to sneak into a convent just to see what it was like…..this is coming from the mind of a 4 year old Methodist girl

    • Ha – Lindy! What a fun story. I didn’t realize that there were nuns living anywhere in Kansas! I bet if you were here you could talk your way into a convent just to have a look around – the nuns have surprised me with their warmth and humor, even through our language barrier.

  2. Hi Melanie,
    Have read your blog. Was excited to read about Seville. Have been there and loved it. You will definitely love Lisbon–it was one of our favorite places!! What an experience you are living!!

    • Hi Janie! I didn’t know you were reading!! Too fun.

      I’m glad to hear you loved Seville! We really have completely fallen in love with it – the people, the beautiful churches, the food… If I could, I think I’d spend every February or March here enjoying the warm winter.

      I hope you and your family are well! I get tidbits every now and then from Rykki’s Facebook page. :) Take Care!

  3. I noticed in the picture that they also sell rosary beads and other trinket type things… Wonder if they make those too? What cute little boxes!

  4. Hello
    I am looking to stay in a convent in June and having a hard time finding out information about this would someone help me out please

  5. Thank you for your post! We were successful in getting treats from the nuns. We had to refer to this post to remember that we had to push the button at the gate and what to ask for in Spanish :)

Leave a Reply