If "location, location, location" is a basic tenent for successful real estate investments, then the Maya that settled Cobá must have been some of the earliest investors. The Yucatan is flat, very flat. It is dry, very dry, and even though the vegetation has a jungle-like quality, most of the water is underground and not easily accessbible. That is unless, sometime between 100B.C.E. and 100 A.D. you were part of a small Mayan community that discovered 2 large freshwater lagoons and realized it would be the perfect location to develop into a regional powerhouse with control over farmlands, trade routes and the dominant element...water. That is, of course, exactly what happened at Cobá. By 600 AD it was a thriving community of 50,000+ inhabitants with well established trade partners, hierarchy and rituals. By about 900 A.D., however, it was locked in near constant battle with Chichen Itza for regional supremacy, and by 1000 A.D. had lost. While Cobá retained some religious significance for several hundred years after it's defeat by the Chichens, by the time the Spanish Conquistadors began exploring the Yucatan in earnest, Cobá had all but been deserted
It lay dormant, but not entirely obliterated by the jungle, until the late 1880s when American and European archeologists, ethnographers and explorers began noting it's presence. Research and excavation would have to wait until the 1970s when paved roads made access possible.
Today Cobá is an easily accessible and highly approachable Mayan ruin that is not quite as well known as some of the others, nor does it see quite the same crush of visitors as do the others.
Cobá is separated into several distinct sections. The first, located within easy walking distance of the main entrance, has several pyramids that were probably used for everyday business or ritual.
To be honest, I have no idea what the purpose or function was for the opening above . It was located at the base of a pyramid and may have have been useful in linking various areas of the compound together. It's opening is easily high enough for someone shorter than an NBA player to traverse.
There are 2 well preserved ball courts, the field upon which the Meso-American sport of kings was played. The game consisted of 2 teams, each with 2 - 4 players, who would try to keep a solid rubber ball weighing around 10 pounds in the air, mostly by using their hips, and then passing it through a solid stone ring set high on each side of the ball court. The game has been likened to modern-day volleyball but without a net. There are deep ritual meanings associated with the ball game as it was used for functions other than mere sport. Over time it's uses included functioning as a proxy for war (the warring communities would agree to a ball game to determine the winner, rather than a battle), mediation, and fertility (as it relates to some of the dress ball players wore). The ball was thought the represent the sun and the ring the the sunrise, sunset or possibly the equinoxes, and finally the ball game also represented the struggle between life and the underworld, and ball courts were often considered portals to the underworld and their placement in a community deliberate and well planned.
The other part of the complex is about a mile from the main entrance and is reached by foot, bicycle or Mayan limousine service...
Whether by walking or peddle power, the interior portions of Cobá are reached via "scabe", the raised and paved white roads built by the Maya to connect plazas and other structures within a city, as well as with other towns and ceremonial areas. Cobá is the starting point for one of the longest scabe in the Yucatan, which runs West for 62 miles ending at Yaxuna.
At the end of one of the major scabe is the Nohoch Mul pyramid. 120 steep steps to the top...and then back down
And, on a hot day, those Mayan limos are a welcome and breezy ride back to the front of the complex.