Some hieroglyphic inscriptions found on stelae and panels of the site allow to affirm that Cobá was the original name of the city. One of the possible meanings, given its proximity to the lagoons, is that of “chopped water”, since the city developed near five lakes that were a fundamental factor for its subsistence.
It emerged as a group of palm huts between the 2nd and 1st centuries BC. C., but for the years 300 to 600 of our era occupied a importance position.
With approximately 70 km2 of extension, the city was communicated by extensive raised ways of stone, known in Mayan language like sacbé, of variable length and width. The longest of them with 100 km., is very close to Chichén Itzá.
The fifty roads which connected Coba made this City to have closer relations with the Gulf Coast and for the year 800 AD. it had erected most of its monumental buildings and its votive stelae, such as the great Nohoch Mul pyramid, which rises to 42 meters in height. Nohoch (that in Maya means Great) and Mul or Muul (that is translated like hill or Pyramid) owns 120 steps and is considered the highest Pyramid of the Peninsula of Yucatan; It is worth mentioning that it is one of the few constructions in which it is still allowed to climb.
Between buildings and stelae, reliefs of prisoners and calendrical inscriptions and memorable events, the structures that sustain and surround it are also striking.
The Church / The Paintings
The Church is a pyramid more than 20 meters high and, after the Nohoch Mul Temple, it is the largest in Cobá. Its name is due to the “pilgrimage” that the inhabitants of the neighboring communities make to Cobá with their offerings.
The complex of Las Pinturas is notable for its pyramid (which is the smallest in Cobá) and the mural that once covered its walls, some remnants of which can still be seen.
The Importance of the Sacbe in the Mayan culture
The “Sacbe (or” sacbeob “in the plural) comes from the Mayan words” sac “(white) and” bé ”(path). It is a straight road that can be between 4 and 20 meters. wide and up to 300 kms. long; It is usually elevated, approximately one meter above ground level, and paved with “sascab” (limestone dust found in the peninsula) or lime. They were built mainly as communication routes to connect plazas and temples within the main Mayan cities; another of its functions was to maintain a social, religious, political and economic link between the big cities and the communities that depended on them, connecting them to each other.
In some cases they also worked as hydraulic routes. The Mayans used to travel to nearby cities but given the high temperatures of the peninsular climate, they used to do it at night and it is believed that the “sacbeob” were white to reflect the moonlight and thus keep their journey illuminated. It is also believed that they had a religious meaning, since a ritual was performed before crossing one.