What to do

Visiting Coba

What is Coba?

Coba is a Mayan archaeological site located in the Yucatan Peninsula, in what is now the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. Coba lies 44 km away from the city of Tulum. The city is located by two lagoons, which is evidence as to why the city was built, as the two lagoons provide natural freshwater yearly.  

The city is made up of a series of elevated stone paths that radiate out from the centre. This evidence of road pavement is seen as remarkable innovation as it was originally believed that the concept of road pavement was introduced to the Americas by the European colonists. The site hosts a number of large pyramids, which serve as temples. Clusters of residential buildings can be seen in the ruins, which shows that the regular citizens of the city lived in close quarters with the political elite of Coba. There are two ball courts in the city, where people took part in leisure activities. 

In other parts of the site, there is the Macanxoc cluster of sites, which served as a space of spiritual significance, as this site has 8 stelaes (carved altars). These well preserved carvings are the reason why Coba is a city of such significance for archaeologists. The clear detail on the art symbolises the former life of the people down to what they wore. Major historical events were also depicted in the carvings as well as dates and times in which they occurred. 

If you want to experience another side of the Yucatan Peninsula, outside of the glitz and the glamour of Cancun or Tulum hotel resort culture, as well taking a break from the sun, the shade ruins of Coba will serve as a worthy excursion. 

History of Coba?

Evidence suggests that Coba was first settled in 50 BC, where the city was made up of palm wood. After 100 AD, a population boom occurred and with this came the influx of social and political importance making it one of the most important cities in the Yucatec-Mayan kingdom. Coba was a city state, meaning there was a degree of autonomy in the city, which allowed it to grow a type of a distinct culture of its own. It is believe that Coba must have controlled a vast expanse of the North Yucatan area, most importantly the extremely sought after water sources of the area, and farming proved to be a major factor in the development of Coba. 

It is said that the cultural upcoming of Chichen Itza and other city states may have eroded on the sheer power that Coba employed. There is evidence of a power struggle between Coba and Chichen Itza with loss of control over a large swath of territory. With this, however, Coba did maintain religious and cultural importance but more and more, the city was limited to focusing its power on the coast, and with the onset of the Spanish Colonial Empire, the city of Coba was eventually abandoned. 

Can you climb Coba? How tall is the pyramid in Coba?

Although Coba houses a number of large temples, the tallest of all, Ixmoja is 42 metres in height and is among the tallest of the Yucatan ruins. This will capture an amazing view of the surrounding forest and the two lagoons that are actually not open to the public. This serves as a great opportunity to climb a pyramid at Chichen Itza’s Kukulkan Pyramid is not open for climbing. 

The climb is about 130 steps, so it is suggested that you wear the correct footwear to make the climb. 

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