Cobá, which translates into "waters stirred by winds", remains
largely unexcavated and it is the raw nature of the site that makes touring
here so exciting. We think it is likely that during your visit you
will ask yourself "What lies underneath the jungle over there? What was life
like here? Where is the rest of the city?" Only a few of the estimated
thousands of buildings on the site have been excavated and this may reflect
the determination of the jungle to reclaim its land. Even today, the
battle to preserve the excavated building from the jungle growth does
not appears winnable. Of course, in part, that it what makes this natural site so interesting
Cobá traded through many of the ports along the coast (Tulum, Xel-ha, Xcaret) and
was connected to other areas by the sacbes (cemented stone roads or
causeways). The city was located deep in the jungle, presumably because of the
availability of large amounts of surface water in several nearby lakes.
The reason for the city's decline is unclear, but Cobá appears to have peaked
in the 10th century and to have been abandoned by the 12th century.
The buildings available for touring are spread out over long distances and
you should be prepared for a considerable amount of walking. Try to
arrive early in the morning, as the sun later in the day is brutal and
activity then can be quite uncomfortable. While there are a few stands
and toilets at the entrance, there are no other facilities available deeper
into the site.
Be sure to have an adequate supply of water, sun-screen and wear a hat.
Guides are available for hire at the entrance to Cobá and are a good idea
if you want to know more about the local history and the sights you are
seeing. If you want to go it alone, you can rent a bike to speed up
crossing between sub-sites or hire a tri-cycle-like cab whose driver will do
the legwork for you.
There are several areas to visit at Cobá and each is worth exploring, but
visiting everything may
take more time than you have available. One of the most popular areas
to examine is the Nohoch Mul Group, a site that contain the pyramid of Nohoch Mul
tallest pyramid-structure in the Yucatan at over 12 stories high. Other
areas at Cobá with
popular sights are the Coba Group, Macanxoc Group and Chumuc Mul.
Cobá is noted for two ball courts. The ball field form
is a narrow corridor between two sloped walls with a hoop near the top.
Apparently the goal was to pass a rubber ball through the hoop to score a
goal, although original records of the game and its rules do not exist.
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