Coba is a spectacular archaeological site found on the Yucatan Peninsula almost two hours from Cancun that is rich with history and beauty. The intrigue and mystery of the ancient Mayan culture is found among these ruins that also boasts the tallest pyramid in the entire Yucatan.
The jungle landscape encompasses Coba on all sides and two large lagoons are found at either end of the impressive ruins. Because of its secluded location that is partially hidden by lush vegetation, the ruins at Coba were not actually discovered until the mid 1800’s. Further investigation into the area did not occur until the 1920’s due to the Caste War that was raging in the region at that time.*
Today, the majority of the ruins remain untouched so that visitors can truly see what life was like in Coba during the Mayan’s reign. In 1973, Coba was designated as an archaeological site so that the public can enjoy and appreciate a piece a history. There are around 6,000 structures throughout the site, although only three of the main settlements are open to the public. The stunning and mysterious ruins of Coba are a must see the next time you are vacationing at Villa del Palmar Cancun.
Centuries of change
Coba and its settlements included a population of nearly 50,000 inhabitants during the years from 600 and 900 A.D. The top industry in the region was agriculture due to the fact that they had an unlimited supply of fresh water from two large lagoons that surround the ruins. Important trading partners with Coba including the neighboring cities of Muyil, Tulum and Xcaret. There was a power struggle between Coba and Chichen Itza during the years of 900 and 1000 A.D. to determine which city would control the Yucatan Peninsula. Ultimately, Coba lost the fight to Chichen Itza which also boasts beautiful and archaeologically significant ruins. The Spanish began to conquer and destroy Mayan civilizations around the year 1550, and sadly it is believed that Coba was deserted at that time as well.
How to get around
Depending on your fitness level or age, there are a variety of transportation options available to you within the ruins. Most people enjoy exploring the site by walking, but you can also rent a bicycle if you prefer. A chauffeured tricycle is available to rent for those who want to travel in style as they relax and take in the impressive landscape and architecture. Whether you walk, bike or take a ride on the tricycle, make sure to travel on the lovely white limestone roads that run within the site. These shady paths are called sacbes and are essentially the same exact roads that the ancient Mayans used during their time. The three settlements that are open to the public are accessible using whatever travel method you prefer. In addition to the sacbes within the ruins, there are also roads that lead from Coba to other nearby cities that were used to transport goods and products between the neighboring civilizations.
Pyramids and Ancient Drawings
The total square mileage of Coba and its surrounding settlements covered an area that is around 30 square miles. This made it one of the more highly populated cities on the Yucatan Peninsula. One of its most notable features is its main pyramid Nohoch Mul, which is actually the tallest pyramid in the entire Yucatan. Make sure to wear your walking shoes so you won’t miss your chance to climb the 120 steps to reach the top. It will be worth the effort to have an amazing 360 degree view of the ruins.
From the top of the pyramid, which has a height of 137 feet, you can see ball courts where popular sports activities at the time were played, somewhat similar to today’s soccer. These were intense games that require high levels of power and stamina from its players. You can also see stone slabs that were called stelae. These stone slabs are often covered with glyphs and other ornate drawings once viewed up close. The drawings and etchings have been deciphered by archaeologists over the years and have helped give us a better understanding of Mayan civilization and culture at its prime.
Whatever your plans are for your vacation at Villa del Palmar Cancun, it’s a must to include a day to visit Coba. The beauty and history of the ruins will leave a lasting impression that can’t be matched.
* The Caste War involved native Mayan people rising up against the European-descended population, called Yucateco.