Coba Mayan Ruins – Tours, Temples & Map [New Guide]

Coba, literally translating to “wind-stirred water”, was a thriving city during the Middle Ages, spreading over 50 miles, and housing 50,000 people.

It was an important link between the sea and the inland.

The site is rich in exotic vegetation and fauna, colorful birds and scurrying iguanas.

You can explore Coba Mayn Ruins by foot, bike or tricycle which are available for rent.

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What can you see at Coba Mayan Ruins?

Coba Map

What makes Coba Mayan Ruins truly unique is the road network that can still be seen and walked upon.

They link the structures of the former city, making it a complex of attractions rather than one.

The roads were known as “sacbe”, meaning “white road”, due to the limestone they’re made of.

It is thought to have acted as natural illumination at night, reflecting off the moonshine.

In some places they reach 30 feet wide.

The longest sacbe runs over 60 miles all the way to Yaxcuna, near Chichen Itza.

The biggest mystery, though, is the practical purpose of these roads, as the Mayans did not use wheels at all.

However, their purpose was a commercial one and the effort required for building them was much greater than that required by the temples.

Nohuch Mul

Coba is home to the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Measuring over 130 feet high and 124 steps, Nohuch Mul (“large mound” in Maya) rewards the climbers with one the most breathtaking panoramas of Mexico.

You can be sure the Mayan priests did not see this fifteen centuries ago.

The specific purpose of the Nohuch Mul pyramid is unknown, though clearly of importance, as all sacbe roads lead to this landmark from all four cardinal directions.

Macanxoc

Macanxoc is the name of the flat pillars group sprinkled through the jungle which are believed to depict the mythological destiny of the Maya.

However, not much can be made of what’s left of the engravings.

Templo de le Iglesia

Meaning “Temple of the Church”, this is the first pyramid you see when entering Coba.

It is the second tallest in the complex, measuring 65m tall.

Though no climbing is allowed, it houses the 11th stela of the Macanxoc group.

It was built between the 7th and 10th centuries, before the arrival of the Toltec.

Grupo de las Pituras

The Paintings Group is a complex located 1 kilometer away from the main pyramid.

It owes its name to the frescoes and murals inside.

This is also the smallest pyramid of Coba and another two stelae right across the steps, depicting a royal character standing over captives bound for sacrifice.

How to get to Coba Mayan Ruins

Either by car or organized tour, reaching Coba is easiest done from the Riviera Maya, taking the Coba road at the first crossroads in Tulum.

It should be easy to navigate since there are plenty of signs on the main road.

Go in the opposite direction from the beach for about 30 minutes and pay attention to the signs before each roundabout (at the road bumps too).

The site offers accommodation and exquisite Yucatan specific food.

Food & Shops

Near the lake and cenotes, local restaurants serve Mexican and Mayan traditional food.

On the road to Tulum there are many craft shops.

You’ll see the famous Honey Store and the artisan studio of Alfredo González Castillo in the Francisco Uh May village.

History

The earliest traces of human settlement at Coba date back to the first century and it supposedly counted 50,000 inhabitants by the 10th century.

This is when a power dispute with Chichen Itza took place.

The main cause for Coba’s fast development was its thriving agriculture favored by the two lagoons and the trade held with Mayan communities as far as Honduras.

Spaniards came in in 1550 and invaded Coba.

The site at Coba was rediscovered rather late, in the 19th century, and opened for the public in 1973, having its mysteries still fresh and under research.

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