Cobá, one of the largest Mayan cities in Yucatán, lies halfway between Tulúm and Valladolid (Chichén Itzá). Cobá’s heyday began towards the end of the classical period and peaked around 800 AD, but settlement traces date back to the 3rd century BC. Cobá’s architecture bears greater resemblance to Tikals than its Mayan neighbors, and depictions of a female aristocrat from Tikal on several stelae in Cobá have led to speculation that there was at least one marriage between the two ruling dynasties.
A striking feature of Cobá is the large number of 40 Sacbeob that meet here. Some of them could be traced over a distance of up to 100 km. Visitors have access to five main building complexes: Cobá, Chumuc Mul, Las Pinturas, Macanxoc and Nohoch Mul, the complex named after the landmark of Cobá. The Cobá complex is within sight of the entrance. Its most striking structure is a heavily weathered pyramid called “Iglesia”. The Nohoch Mul complex, on the other hand, is approximately 3 km from the entrance and begins about one kilometre northeast of Grupo Cobá. It was built on a natural elevation covering an area of approx. 400 x 600 metres. The Nohoch Mul pyramid, called “Structure I”, is the largest building in the entire archaeological zone, with an imposing height of 42 metres. From its platform, the view extends almost endlessly over the treetops of the Yucatec tropical forest. The temple on its top was built later than the base and looks like the temples of Tulúm. The Grupo Nohoch Mul also has some peripheral structures such as the Xaibé pyramid and a ball court in the south of the actual core.
Why Cobá has reached its considerable size remains unclear, but the abundance of water in the area with several lagoons, fresh water springs and some chultunes is extraordinary for Yucatán.
Nature lovers get their money’s worth especially in the early morning and late afternoon: parrots, toucans, capuchin monkeys and the large, bright blue Morpho butterflies populate the dense forest, where numerous orchid species also grow. There is also a small lake, Lago Macanxoc, where you can see turtles and fish and observe birds early in the morning. To explore the extensive grounds, you can rent a bicycle or take a ride in a kind of bicycle rickshaw. Drinks can only be bought at the entrance, so you should take plenty of water with you. When coming from Tulúm, one should not be irritated by the fact that the direct road connection via Chemax is still not listed on all maps.