This ancient Mayan city of Coba or 'City
of Ghosts', is about 50 km west of Tulum and just now being explored. Comprised of 5 major areas, only 4 have been partially
excavated and restored. Truly remarkable. Over 50 sq. km in size with an estimated 50-60 thousand people. It was
at its peak during the Classic Period. Comprised of over 6500 structures, only 10% have actually been excavated!
The Coba ruins of Quintana
Although Coba, located 45 km (28 miles) northwest of Tulum, is less well-known than either Tulum or Chichen Itza, it is one of the oldest Mayan cities and predates other better known cities in the area. Coba
is located near five of the largest lakes in the Yucatan Peninsula: Cobá, Macanxoc,
Xkanha, Zacalpuc and Sina AKal.
Coba covers an
area of about 70 square km (28 square miles). The most important buildings there are located
near the Coba and Macanxoc lakes. Most
of the buildings in Coba are unrestored, which isn't surprising, given that there are approximately
15,000 structures throughout the city.
Nohoch Mul: the
tallest pyramid in the Yucatan peninsula. It is 12 stories tall and has 120 steps to the
top! From the top you can view a magnificent span of jungle with the tops of other
ruins reaching above the jungle canopy.
History of Coba ~ Mayan
The five lakes of Coba are without a doubt the main reason why the Mayans settled here.
Coba reached its peak around 600 AD, yet it was mysteriously abandoned three hundred years later.
Some archaeological evidence suggests that around the 8th century, when the population of the
city was at its peak, it may have had as many as 55,000 residents.
are connected by a complex network of sacbes, or stone roads, that are believed to have been built between 600 and 800 BC.
There are over 40 sacbes that cover approximately 100 km (63 miles). The
sacbes reach other important Mayan cities, like Yaxuna, near Chichen Itza, Pole, now called Xcaret, and the
Muyil. They are believed to have been used by the military
and for trading, and sacbes were also used for various rituals and pilgrimages.
As Chichen Itza became more economically, and militarily dominant, Coba
began to decline. Both cities fought long wars against each other. The
destruction of Yaxuna in 860 by Chichen Itza, a city considered to be Coba´s stronghold,
marked Coba´s downfall. Despite this, some centuries later,
other buildings were added to the city and pilgrimages to Coba continued for some time afterward.
In 1891, the Austrian
archaeologist Teobert Maler, after hearing of an ancient city lost in the jungle, came to Coba
and began its first excavation. The city remained undisturbed for another thirty five years
until 1926, when the Carnegie Institute financed two expeditions headed by Eric Thompson and Harry Pollock. In
the 1970´s the Mexican government through the INAH (National Institute of Anthropology and History)
financed more excavations at Coba. In spite of all this work,
only a few of structures in Coba have been excavated and restored.
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