8. Cancun: Coba Ruins Self-Guided Tour
Your walking tour of the Coba Ruins begins, appropriately, at the site’s entrance. As you enter and get your first look at the place, you will hear the story of how this astonishingly advanced civilization rose and fell. You’ll also learn some of the little-known facts about the unique trees found in these ruins, and what importance they held in ancient Mayan society.
The first major landmark you’ll come to is a ball court. Unlike in other sites, this one was likely used for ceremonial purposes, to depict a struggle between dark and light.
Then you will move on to La Iglesia Pyramid. If you look closely, you might be able to see some residue from the paint which once coated this entire pyramid. A little farther down the path is the Crossroads Pyramid, an example of an unusual twist on the usual Mayan architecture.
As you walk, you’ll notice the surprisingly intact network of ancient roads crisscrossing the site. These roads were actually hugely important to Mayan cities, and have a lot to say about life over a thousand years ago.
The next major landmark is the Pyramid of the Painted Lintel. This impressive limestone structure was once painted in bright colors, and you can still find traces of those colors on the pyramid.
As you pass the second ball court, which was used for the game in a more traditional way than the first, you’ll learn all about the religious beliefs and practices of the ancient Mayans, as well as the infamous calendar by which they tracked the passage of years.
Finally, you’ll find yourself at the foot of the Nohoch Mul Pyramid, the second-largest Mayan pyramid in the entire world. But what’s better than admiring a pyramid-like this from the bottom? Climbing to the top! Scale the 120 steps and survey the Coba Ruins from a whole new perspective.