12 November 2009

Sweet Shop: La Violeta, Madrid, Spain

A small elegant Spanish shop that has been selling sweet candy violets since 1915. How could I resist? Truthfully, I had read about this store before I left for Madrid, and knew I had to visit. I was hoping it would be as enchanting as it sounded. It was. It is.

Considered one of the most Madrilian souvenirs you can buy, these small flower shaped candies are flavored with violet essence. No one seems to know why they have become such a symbolic sweet of the city. Speculation is that Mariano Gil who opened the shop decided to try something different than the cakes his family baked. With so many violets in the mountains north of Madrid, he experimented with their fragrant essence. Today there are many other shops selling the candy, but Gil’s is the original—and still in the family.

Located off the beautiful Puerta de Sol, the old-fashioned shop is easy to find. But be prepared: there is only room for about three customers at a time in this minuscule shop. And lots of locals stop in here to buy gifts too. The shelves are filled with glass jars bedecked with purple ribbons with the flower shaped candies inside.

The candy is sold by weight and you can select exquisite specially made porcelain pieces to put the sweets in (each have a violet on them). There are also slender lovely cut glass vases that can be filled with the bonbons.

But if you are on a budget and have suitcase poundage to consider (like moi), you can buy small containers of the bonbons for under $2E. (see photo below) which they will even gift wrap for you. How sweet is that?
PS The best part of all--these darling little suckees are delicious. And the good news: You won't find them at the mall when you get back home. You can't buy them on the internet either. The bad news: I guess it's the same as the good news. You have to go to Madrid if you want more.

La Violeta
Plaza de Canalejas 6
Madrid, Spain


  1. The shop is tiny, precious and very elegant. A vestige memory of what 18th century Madrid must have been like for those of us living in the 21st Century. A must visit and, surely, required purchase of the delectable violet treats found within. A symbol of romantic Madrid.

  2. I totally agree. Best of all, I I will be in Madrid in November and am looking forward to another stop at the shop! Thanks for the comment--Donna

  3. I have heard people from Madrid say, when asked about something they consider to be very typically "madrileño", and they always mention this place! They also mention childhood memories of being there in line on Sat mornings with their parents.