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Location DB > Mexico > Quintana Roo > Coba > Coba
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 Database Info
created by lopix on 7/16/2005 10:12 PM
last modified by lopix on 7/16/2005 10:46 PM
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Taken from http://www.differe...aces/coba/coba.htm

Cobá is beautiful and mysterious - a visit here requires some effort but is very worthwhile. Its name means "ruffled waters", derived from the five lakes in the vicinity, and it is one of the oldest Mayan settlements on the peninsular. It also has the highest pyramid in the area and the greatest concentration of sacbeob (Mayan roads constructed from stone), both of which suggest a major city - yet the ruins were not discovered until the late 19th century. Even today, only a small fraction of the many structures in this vast site have been excavated and this, together with the remoteness and jungle setting, contribute to the feeling of exploring new ground.

There is a collection of wooden stalls selling artifacts and refreshments around the entrance to the site. There are no other refreshments available on the site, so stock up here and prepare for walking through the jungle with good shoes and lots of insect repellent.

You will need to walk at least 3km to see the biggest pyramid; the main routes are on wide, well signed paths but there are many smaller tracks leading into the jungle which you may wish to investigate. Some are visibly very short but for others a guide (there are usually several around the gate) is advisable.

Allow at least half a day to see the main structures and try to avoid the heat of the day. There are no crowds here, as Cobá is not on the tour bus routes, and any other travelers you meet will be of the serious kind rather than the bikini-clad tourists at Tulúm. Opening times are the usual 8.00am to 5.00pm. Toilet facilities by the entrance are basic but clean, a small fee is charged for their use.

Cobá was a thriving city from around A.D.600, although it had been settled for around a thousand years before this date. It is more similar to Tikal in Guatemala than to its Mayan neighbors, and depictions of female Tikal royalty on several stelae found here have led to speculation that there was at least one marriage between the royalty of the two cities.

Another interesting feature of Cobá is the convergence of around forty sacbe (ancient roadyway), built by the Maya, one of which has been traced a distance of 60 miles (100 km). Each sacbe was constructed with stones to a height of one to two meters and then covered with white mortar. Their purpose is puzzling as this civilization had no wheeled transport and had yet to see the horse, but may have been built for religious processions and pilgrimages.

Cobá is one of the oldest settlements in the Yucatan. The first group of structures (Groupo Cobá) is within view of the entrance. Here is La Iglesia, a pyramid over 65 ft (20 m) high and the second largest at Cobá. The steps are steep and crumbling, and climbing had been prohibited on our last visit. This is because it is so crumbly that people have fallen from it to their deaths.

Back on the main path, follow the signs to Nohoch Mul, the largest pyramid, over a mile (nearly 2 km) away. The walk is interesting as there are several stelae, protected by palapa roofs, shown where they were discovered and there are many more unexcavated mounds along the way. This is also a good chance to observe the jungle life; butterflies, birds and insects abound but the path is wide and foliage well cleared.

Nohoch Mul is a staggering 136 ft (42 m) high and towers above the jungle. The steps are disintegrating in places (look for shell-like carvings in others), but climbing the pyramid is not too difficult. Descending is more so, but rest for a while at the top and admire the scenery - miles of jungle, lakes and a good view of the site as a whole. The temple, which crowns the pyramid, was added later and is similar in style to those at Tulúm; there is a carving of the descending god at the entrance.

On the way back from Nohoch Mul, another smaller path leads to Conjunto Las Picturas (Temple of the Paintings) where fragments of color can be seen in some murals at the top of a four tiered pyramid. As you return, look for remains of sacbeob along the path and ponder the mysteries of Cobá!
 Basic Information
Type: Ruined City
Status: Active
Accessibility: Easy - about 18 pesos ($1.80 USD) to get in
Recommendation: worth the trip
 Physical Information

Coba, Quintana Roo
Owner: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia
  • See a map of this location
  •  Hazards
  • monkeys
  •  Interesting Features
    2nd tallest pyramid in Latin America (after Tikal)
    largest Mayan city
    ruined building after building
    live archeological site
     Security Measures
     Historical Dates
    Built: 600
    Closed: 940
     Required Equipment
  • water, good shoes, camera
  •  Recommended Equipment
    Taken from

    Coba is one of the largest cities of the Mayans, Coba rose in the Late Classic period of Mayan History, in 600 AD, and eventually fell before might of CHICHEN ITZA sometime around 940 AD. At its height, the lords of Coba ruled over a huge territory, exacting tribute from small city states hundreds of kilometers away.

    Several small nearby lakes made Coba a rarity among Mayan sites: a city with abundant water. Given that other locations rose and fell with their water supplies, these lakes no doubt contributed to the prominence and longevity (it is among the longest-inhabited of all Mayan cities) the city achieved.

    Because Coba is still in the fairly early stages of discovery and reconstruction, it offers visitors a fascinating look at the lengthy and complex process of restoring Mayan cities. The largest structures at Coba are the huge Late Classic temple called Nohoch Mul and a giant pyramid called the Castillo. Both rise more than 75 feet above the surrounding forests. Many other structures are still being excavated and even discovered, emerging from the cloak of a thousand years of overgrowth. Coba also benefits from the vastly increased scholarly knowledge of Mayan architecture -- and Mayan life in general -- as experts painstakingly piece together this mammoth site.

    The gratuitous destruction and historical errors that have flawed other locations have not been visited upon Coba , leaving us to speculate that once this restoration is complete, the city may rival the greatest of all Mayan centers. Among the great achievements of the people of Coba were towering pyramids, advanced agricultural practices (essential for feeding the 30,000 people estimated to have lived within the city itself), and the building of a system of roads that linked virtually the entire dominion together. These roads, or sacbe, were tremendous aids to commerce -- and to the waging of war.Today's visitors have the privilege of seeing the story as it first begins to unfold, an epic tale still in its early chapters.
     Media Coverage
    Maybe in some Mexican news, but not here...
     Future Plans
    More excavations, uncovering more buildings, learning about the ancient Mayans.

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     Photo Galleries
    Click to view gallery
    December 2003 Trip
    Wed, Dec 10th, 2003
    posted by lopix
    29 pictures
    Click to view gallery
    november 2014
    Sat, Jun 6th, 2015
    posted by -Rio-
    10 pictures

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     Moderator Rating
    The moderator rating is a neutral rating of the content quality, photography, and coolness of this location.

    Category Rating
    Photography 10 / 10
    Coolness 10 / 10
    Content Quality 10 / 10
    This location's validation is current. It was last validated by Mike Dijital on 6/7/2015 1:10 AM.

     Latest Changes
  • on Jun 7 15 at 1:10, Mike Dijital validated this location
  • on Jun 7 15 at 1:05, -Rio- reordered images in gallery november 2014
  • on Jun 7 15 at 1:04, -Rio- updated gallery picture
  • on Jun 7 15 at 1:04, -Rio- updated gallery picture
  • on Jun 7 15 at 1:04, -Rio- updated gallery picture
  • on Jun 7 15 at 1:04, -Rio- updated gallery picture
  • on Jun 7 15 at 1:04, -Rio- updated gallery picture
  • on Jun 7 15 at 1:04, -Rio- updated gallery picture
  • on Jun 7 15 at 1:04, -Rio- updated gallery picture
  • on Jun 7 15 at 1:04, -Rio- updated gallery picture
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    You must log in for this feature to work.Tourisme?XBEN015342/5/2009 8:52 AM by XBEN
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