Coba Mayan Ruins

Mexico is full of fantastic ruins that chart the rise and fall of some of the world’s ancient civilisations. Coba, Mexico’s premier set of Mayan ruins, ranks as one of the most spectacular sights in the country, and is a must-see on any visit to Mexico. It reached its peak between 600AD and 900AD, but eventually declined and was finally abandoned when the Spanish Conquistadors invaded the Peninsula in 1550.

Coba, Mexico’s great treasure

The Coba Mayan Ruins is one of the most important archaeological sites on the Yucatan Peninsula, and is very different from other Mayan cities. With its distinctive white roads and the incredible central pyramid of Nohoch Mul, it truly is like something out of an Indiana Jones movie.

For years, Coba was ignored because of its inaccessible position. It wasn’t until the 1800s that some brave archaeologists, led by local guides, ventured into the thick jungle. They discovered the pyramid of Nohoch Mul, covered in vines and creepers, and quickly realised that this was a discovery that could almost rival the pyramids of Egypt in importance.

Waters stirred by the wind

In Mayan folklore the word Coba means ‘waters stirred by the wind’. The name comes from the site’s location between two lagoons, a source of fresh water and the reason why the Mayans chose this spot to build one of their most important cities.

It’s estimated that there are around 6,000 individual structures in the site, but it is so vast that much of the city hasn’t even been excavated yet. That gives it a unique atmosphere, as the jungle still clings on to much of the city’s remains, with the dominant Nohoch Mul pyramid rising majestically out of the undergrowth, surrounded by giant trees and hanging vines. The ceremonial white roads or ‘sacbéob’ connect the various parts of the settlement. The longest of these white roads runs for over 100km.

Three main parts of this vast complex have been excavated, and as well as the central pyramid you can explore the Jonjunto Pinturas or spiritual area, and the Macanxoc alters close to the lagoon of the same name.

The heart of the Jungle

If you visit this ancient historical site you’ll see an incredible selection of important artefacts, statues and buildings set in traditional Mayan villages, which gives you a real feel for this ancient and mysterious civilisation. Much of the restoration of the site has been very sympathetic, and the mix of natural jungle and mysterious ruins makes this an incredibly atmospheric and memorable destination.

It’s possible to climb the 120 steps to the top of the pyramid, giving you a bird’s eye view of the site. Nohoch Mul is the tallest pyramid on the peninsula, and stands 137 feet high.

This important site is one of the most attractive and inspiring Mayan locations in Mexico. Coba should be at the top of your to-do list if you want to discover more about the ancient Mayan culture that dominated this part of Mexico for hundreds of years, and left some of the country’s most spectacular archaeological sites and ruins. A trip to Coba, Mexico’s best-preserved Mayan complex, is bound to be one of the highlights of your trip.