Magnificent Coca Castle was built in the 15th century by Alonso de Fonseca, a mighty archbishop of Seville, during the reign of King Enrique IV of Castile. It's made up of two square baileys separated by a passageway. Both show polygonal towers at the corners. The double walls are 2.5 m thick and it's circled by a deep dry moat.
Coca castle is a mixture of western and Moorish military architecture, as can be seen from its decoration. It has a square ground plan, a moat and two walled enclosures, which gives it the air of impregnability for which it has been known over the centuries. The keep is located in the second area. It is made of brick and its walls are profusely decorated. The interior is very luxurious and lavish, and conserves its Mudejar decoration. Due to its great splendour, it was used more as a palace than as a fortress. It is one of the crowning works of the military Mudejar style.
The castle is owned by the Alva family and now serves as a training center for foresters. Their school is situated in the inner bailey.
Sweetheart Abbey was a Cistercian monastery, founded in 1275 by Dervorguilla of Galloway in memory of her husband John de Balliol. His embalmed heart, in a casket of ivory and silver, was buried alongside her when she died; the monks at the Abbey then renamed the Abbey in tribute to her. Their son, also John, became king of Scotland but his reign was tragic and short. The depredations suffered by the Abbey in subsequent periods, have caused both the graves to be lost. The abbey, built in deep-red, local sandstone, was founded as a daughter house to Dundrennan Abbey; this Novum Monasterium (New Monastery), became known as the New Abbey.
The immediate abbey precincts extended to 120,000 m2 and sections of the surrounding wall can still be seen today. The Cistercian order, also known as the White Monks because of the white habit, over which they wore a black scapular or apron, built many great abbeys after their establishment around 1100. Like many of their abbeys, the New Abbey's interests lay not only in prayer and contemplation but in the farming and commercial activity of the area, making it the centre of local life. The abbey ruins dominate the skyline today and one can only imagine how it and the monks would have dominated early medieval life as farmers, agriculturalists, horse and cattle breeders. Surrounded by rich and fertile grazing and arable land, they became increasingly expert and systematic in their farming and breeding methods. Like all Cistercian abbeys, they made their mark, not only on the religious life of the district but on the ways of local farmers and influenced agriculture in the surrounding areas.
The village which stands next to the ruins today, is now known as New Abbey. At the other end of the main street is Monksmill, a corn mill. Although the present buildings date from the late eighteenth century, there was an earlier mill built by and for the monks of the abbey which serviced the surrounding farms.