Coba is an ancient Mayan city in the state of Quintana Roo, located 172 km from Cancun, and about 90km from Chichen Itza. Enveloped in the deep green of the tropical jungle, this ancient Mayan city rises up between two lagoons. In its era of splendour the site extended over 75 sq. km.
History of Coba
During its history, Coba had more than 50,000 inhabitants, and was as important as Tikal in Guatemala, with which it maintained tight cultural ties. Coba exercised economic control over the region through a complex network of elevated stone and plaster roads, known in Maya as sacbe, radiating from the center of Coba to many other Mayan cities. The longest of these ran over 100km and led to the city of Yaxuna. Coba traded extensively with other Mayan communities, particularly the ones further south along the Caribbean coast in what is now Belize and Honduras. It utilized the ports of Xcaret, Xel-Há, Tancah, and Tulum.
Mayan Archaeology in Coba
Coba remained an important site in the Post-Classic era. The Mayan archaeology in Coba is truly inspiring. New temples were built and old ones were maintained until at least the 14th century, probably as late as the arrival of the Spanish. The site remained relatively unknown due to its remoteness, until the first modern road was opened up to Coba in the early 1970s. Once the major resort of Cancun was planned the Mexican government realized that clearing and restoring some of this enormous Mayan archaeological site would make it an important tourist attraction.
The city is composed of various Mayan communities: Cobá, Chumuc Mul, Nohoch Mul, Las Pinturas, Macanxoc and Kukulcan being some of them. From Nohoch Mul, the tallest pyramid on the north of the peninsula with its 42 metres (46 yards), the view over the jungle that extends to infinity is unbeatable. This is the one shown in the photo.
Tours to Coba
To visit Coba it is advisable to take a tour with one of our recommended tour operators (see below). It takes about 2.5 hours to get there from Cancun, and the guided visit takes at least 1.5 hours to cover the main buildings. Tours to Coba are often combined with a visit to Tulum for archaeology lovers, or with one of the ecoparks or other natural attractions in the zone to make it a full day’s excursion.