The city of Cobá was part of the Mayan Empire, located in the south-east of Mexico, in the territory now occupied by the Sate of Quintana Roo, some ninety kilometres east of Chichén-Itzá and forty kilometres north-east of Tulum.
The possible meaning of Cobá could be “cob” which means “having humidity or moss” and “á” or “há” which means “water”, in other words “water with moss” or “water humidity”; another possibility which cannot be ruled out is the one meaning “murky water”, due to its proximity to some small lakes which have a very murky colour.
In its ancient heyday it had a population of 50,000 inhabitants and covered an area of eighty square kilometres. The majority of the city was built in the middle of the classic period of the Mayan civilization, between the years 500 and 900 of our era and contained many temples, among which the 42 metres high Nohoch Mul pyramid has survived. Most of the inscriptions date from the VII century and numerous relics indicate that construction and repair of the buildings continued until the XIV century and very probably until the arrival of the first Spanish conquerors.
Although it is true that the city was never forgotten, most archaeological studies of the area did not take place until the beginning of the XX century since the jungle made it difficult to gain access to the area. In 1972 the National Institute of Anthropology and History began to develop the zone and open up breaches in the jungle for researchers and visitors. Currently its ruins are one of the main tourist attractions in the area.