Just outside of Plaza Mayor located in the heart of the historic Madrid is a cookie shop that sells some of the best homemade cookies one will ever try. The only difference between this shop and that of the hundreds of other sweets shops found throughout the city is that these cookies are made by none other than Hieronymite nuns.

The most fascinating part of this visit is not only the fact that you get to visit a famous 17th century convent, but you get to witness firsthand the commitment these nuns have made to live in solitary confinement. These nuns go to great lengths to disguise themselves from the outside world in order to focus solely on a life given entirely to the praise of God and the love of all humanity.

On the left of the convent is an old wooden door with a sign that reads ?Venta De Dulces? (sweets for sale). Once located you have to first ring the doorbell, and if you arrive during their open hours, the door will immediately unlock and you will be free to enter. Once inside you will then walk down a long hallway through a small open terrace and then into an even smaller room with a big wooden turntable inside one of the walls. Hanging right beside the turntable is a long metal chain that serves as proof that the nuns never leave from inside the convent, using instead the chain to shut the door of the turntable to indicate that they are closed.

The cookies on the menu include a range of traditional Spanish sweets such as tocinillos de cielo (creamy egg yolk and sugar, topped with caramel), sherry mantecados (soft biscuits with jam), and my favorite, the naranjines, which contain just the perfect amount of orange flavoring.

Be sure to stop at this historic landmark during your next homeswap in beautiful Madrid!