Stone Glyph click to map of Mexico the Yucatan Peninsula

Coba "waters stirred by the wind"   explore Nohoch Mul, tallest Mayan Pyramid in the Yucatan.

Climb to the Sky Coba Pyramid Yucatan Mexico Nohoch Mul Pyramid Coba Mexico Messico Yucatan Ball Court at Coba Mexico Messico the Yucatan Pyramid Coba Mexico jungle views Macanxoc Group stelae Mayan Ruins Messico the Yucatan

Small Stone Glyph Coba Mayan Ruins Yucatan A Journey Back In Time

Coba Mexico Nohuch Mul Pyramid Yucatan Peninsula west of TulumA visit to the vast ruins of Cobá requires some effort but is very worthwhile. Much of the 67km (42 sq. mile) site is unexcavated. Cobá meaning “waters stirred by the wind” or, some think "ashes" because of the color of its lakes. It is one of the oldest Mayan settlements on the Yucatan Peninsula. Because of its exceptionally tall structures its pyramids can be likened to the temples of Tikal in Guatemala.

Scholars believe Cobá was an important trade link between the Yucatán Caribbean coast and inland cities. 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.

Coba is surrounded by five large lakes which provided the ancient city with its water supply. A major Mayan Ceremonial Center, Coba covers nearly 43 square miles containing as many as twenty thousand structures. It was also the hub of a vast network of elevated, white stone roads or sacbes stretching across the Mayan territory. A 96km (60 mile) long sacbé through the jungle linked Cobá to Yaxuná, once a large, important Maya center 48km (30 miles) south of Chichén-Itzá. This elevated, white stone road is the Maya's longest known sacbé. At least fifty shorter ones also lead from Coba.

A major attraction is the pyramid of Nohoch Mul, the tallest pyramid in Coba, and the tallest Mayan structure on the Yucatan Peninsula. Nohoch Mul is 138 feet high with a 120 step stairway composed of seven, round-cornered platforms. A spectacular view of the surrounding jungle can be gained by ascending to the top of this stone vantage point.

Explore Coba Mexico west of Soliman Bay TankahExploring Coba -

Though maps of Cobá show ruins around two lakes, there are really only two excavated groups. The first group of structures, (Groupo Cobá, please see below) is within view of the entrance. La Iglesia, a pyramid over 65 ft (20 m) high and the second largest at Cobá, is what you'll find if you take the path bearing right after the entrance. Walking to it, notice the unexcavated mounds on the left. The steps of La Iglesia are steep and crumbling, and climbing is prohibited.

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. These are 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. The path is wide and foliage well cleared.

The ancient city-state of Coba, estimated to have over 50,000 inhabitants at its peak during the Late Classic Period (A.D. 700-900), can be separated archaeologically into 7 differing structural groups and areas.

These groups are:

Macanxoc Group StelaeLake Macanxoc and the Macanxoc Group - Composed of eight stelae, some of which are protected by palm roofs, and also a few smaller structures.

Frescoes Group - composed of twenty structures the best preserved being (Structure 1) which is made up of five platforms and a stucco-painted temple at its top. At its base is (Structure 2) and has a thatched roof protecting its paintings.

Nohoch Mul Group - as mentioned above, also has carved human figures in sky-downward, descending motion most likely depicting Mayan gods. It is thought that a pair of jaguars lived at Nohoch Mul for many years.

Coba Group - composed of several mounds and a large four hundred and ten foot by sixty six foot terrace. This is a difficult site to visit because of the dense jungle vegetation.

The Church - the second tallest pyramid in Coba, standing seventy nine feet high and partially restored. Constructed with nine platforms, it was most likely built between 800 and 1,000 A.D. Stella 11 is located at the front of the pyramid. A chamber with a Mayan corbel arch is to the left and to the south is a long, forty nine foot vaulted tunnel.

Other areas - are Lake Coba, the Chumuc Group, the Dzib Mul or Mound of Writing, and the Ball Court.

Coba Ball Court Coba Mexico Messico Mayan Ruins Rovine the YucatanThe Ball Court - The game played in the ball courts by the ancient Mayans was very important to their culture. We can make some assumptions about how the game was played by reviewing the carvings on the walls of the courts around the area. It is believed that because each player is wearing different costumes that players from the surrounding area would represent their tribes. The game was played with a hard ball that would shoot through the stone ring in the court.

Preparation - Near the entrance to the site is a collection of vendor stalls where you can find artifacts and refreshments. There are no other refreshments available on the site, so either bring your own or stock up here. Be prepared for walking through the jungle with good shoes and lots of insect repellent, as the moist jungle environment supports quite an insect population.

Allow at least half a day to see the main structures and arrive early to avoid the worst 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.

Once at the archaeological site, keep your bearings - it's very easy to get lost on the maze of dirt roads in the jungle. 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 having a guide is advisable. You may wish to hire one of the guides at the main entrance before you start.

Be sure to bring your bird and butterfly books; this is one of the best places to see both! Branching off from every labeled path, you'll notice unofficial narrow paths into the jungle used by locals as shortcuts through the ruins. These are good for birding, but be careful to remember the way back.

Location - From Soliman Bay/Tankah take Highway 305 to Tulum, then head west for 42kilometers/25 miles.

Enjoy Coba!

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