Wednesday, August 28, 2013 9:57 AM
Exploring the History Behind Cobá
Deep in the
jungles of the state of Quintana Roo lies a lesser-known Mayan city: Cobá.
While this archaeological site doesn't have the renown of Chichen Itzá or
Tulum, it's one of the largest ancient Mayan cities yet discovered and has the
tallest Mayan pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula. Cobá is located about 25 miles
inland from the city of Tulum, and once covered over 30 square miles.
original name remains unknown, but archaeologist Eric Thompson discovered that
the city's name was Kinchil Cobá as of the 1930s. Cobá has several possible
translations, including "place of the rough water", "abundant water" and "water
of the chachalaca bird". The city was built around two lagoons, Cobá and
Macanxoc. Sacbes (white Mayan pathways) once led residents between the city's
different plazas. The site has two ball courts along with several of the
largest ancient Mayan pyramids, including Nohoch Mul, the tallest Mayan pyramid
in the Yucatan Peninsula at 137 feet high.
of Cobá dates all the way back to 200 BC or possibly earlier, although little evidence
remains of this era because buildings were constructed of wood and palm atop
small stone platforms. Most of what remains of Cobá today was built from 500 to
900 AD and still remains in beautiful condition. For many centuries, this city
had control over immense lands with extensive farming land and impressive trade
routes with about 60,000 residents, and didn't lose power until the rise of
Chichen Itzá around 1000 AD. By the time the Spanish conquistadors reached the
Yucatan Peninsula in the 1500s, Cobá was already uninhabited.
has become a popular site for day trips out of Cancun and the Riviera Maya.
Visitors love exploring the vast city on rented bikes, and the 120 steps of
Nohoch Mul pyramid are open for climbing.