Coba is an important ancient Maya city in an area of lakes, from here the great sacbe’ob (long roads) were built, which helped it survive until it was defeated by Chichen Itza. The round observatory, the great Pyramid of Nohoch Mul and the stunning inscriptions make it unique.
The Mayan architects and the mass of laborers have left us majestic buildings in beautiful harmony with the luxuriant natural setting.
Coba, the city surrounded by five lakes, was one of the most important cities of the northern Maya lowlands. It dominated an extensive territory, and its 50 raised roads, known in Maya as sacbes (white roads), served ceremonial, administrative and residential centers. As well as creating alliances, trading and opportunities for interchange, the roads enabled Coba to exercise control over other groups.
Highlights include reliefs and stelae of prisoners and calendar inscriptions of notable events, and there are two particularly important buildings in terms of their size and height. One is the Nohoch Mul and the other is known as “La Iglesia” (The Church).
Coba means “choppy water”. It is one of the few pre-Hispanic settlements to keep its original name, as testified by the inscriptions carved on the monuments.
It is located in the northwest of the state of Quintana Roo, in the municipality of Tulum.
From the city of Cancun, take Federal Highway 307 towards Tulum and continue on State Highway 109 towards Nuevo Xcan. The site is located 43 km further on.
Monday to Sunday from 8:00 to 17:00 hrs. Last entry 15:30. Maximum capacity 1500 people per day and 250 people at time.
Coba consisted of small villages which lived by farming and hunting. Between the fifth and tenth centuries, its economy grew and its political organization improved. Roads were built and stelae and panels were sculpted. The road network kept expanding, and political and trading relationships began with other Mayan towns.
Coba was completely abandoned by the time the Spanish conquistadors took over the Yucatan peninsula, until the explorer John Lloyd Stephens reported its existence in 1842. Juan Peón Contreras and D. Elizalde arrived at Coba in 1886, sketching just one of the temples. In 1891, Teobert Maler provided the first photograph of a temple at Coba.