Coba Mexico is a fascinating example of Mayan ruins. Located only 55 miles east of the famous site Chichen Itza, the Coba ruins allows travelers who develop a curiosity about the Mayans to see more than one ruined city in the same trip. The Mayan ruins of Coba are also only 25 miles from the Caribbean Sea and a short 27-mile drive from the ancient Mayan city of Tulum. It is estimated that this city had as many as 50,000 inhabitants during the first century. Today, Coba tours allow visitors to explore the ruins and learn about the religion and culture of the Mayans through the remaining structures.
Visitors will see several large temple pyramids when they visit Coba Mexico. The tallest pyramid is called Nohoch Mul and reaches 137 feet in height. This is the tallest temple pyramid on the Yucatan peninsula. Scholars have determined from the Coba ruins that the majority of construction was done during the mid to late classic period, from approximately 500 through 900 AD; many of the dated hieroglyphic inscriptions date from the seventh century. The Mayan ruins of Coba are unique also because construction and repairs continued from this time through to the fourteenth century and possibly all the way to the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors.
The economy of Coba Mexico depended on trade, and residents traded with other nearby Mayan communities including Tulum. The area of the entire city spreads over more than 30 square miles, reminding visitors how expansive and successful this ancient city must have been. While the location of this archaeological site was always known, it wasn’t fully explored until the 1920s. The remote location had left the Coba ruins untouched even though many explorers heard about its existence. The archaeological site remained largely unvisited until the 1970s when a road was completed. Since the 1980s, Coba has been a popular tourist attraction even though only a small area of the former city has been cleared of jungle and excavated.
A visit to the Mayan ruins of Coba can be part of a larger tour of Mexican archaeological sites. The most famous site is Chichen Itza, and Tulum is also close by. Adventurous travelers may want to continue their historical tour with stops at other Mayan ruins including Calakmul, Comalcalco, Ek Balam, or Kohunlich. Exploration doesn’t stop in Mexico either—the Mayan ruins extend into the present-day countries of Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, and El Salvador. If you aren’t traveling to Central America any time soon, many museums around the world have exhibits featuring Mayan art and architecture.
An interesting fact about Coba is that the first picture of this ruined city was taken in 1893 by Teoberto Maler. The photograph however wasn’t published at the time, and the site remained unexplored by archaeologists for several more decades. If you’re taking a trip to the Caribbean coast, it is still possible to learn a bit about Mayan history. Take a day away from sunbathing and snorkeling to venture inland where an ancient civilization thrived for thousands of years. Mayan mythology and art are guaranteed to fascinate travelers who don’t even traditionally have an interest in history.