Seen in the ancient Maya ruins of Cobá, Quintana Roo, Mexico:
The more I read about Maya sites, the more complex I find the ball courts to be — or at least, the myriad forms they often take. If you’re curious, this ball court was built in an older, somewhat classic form — the side walls are mostly sloped, and the ends of the court are open. To take in this scene, though, you’re standing with a modern structure to your back — a covering for some pieces of sculpture. This calls for a wide lens, and a stitched multi-image panorama on top of it.
Derived from the Mayan for “large hill,” Nohoch Mul is by far the largest (and to judge from pictures online, the most-photographed) structure at the Maya ruins of Cobá:
As you can see, parts of it (on the sides of the stairway) are in rough shape — but it’s got the advantage of being one of the largest Maya pyramids that visitors are still allowed to climb. And for those with issues with heights, a rope is provided to help you get up and down.
You may not realize it, but this is a particularly odd structure in the Mayan world:
It’s a pyramid called Xaibe at the ancient ruins of Cobá in Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula. The name comes from a Maya term for a crossroads, since it’s at the junction of four Maya roads — and it’s nearly unique in being a Maya pyramid with an elliptical (vs. rectangular) footprint. It *may* have been used as a lookout tower, but I’ve never seen anything resembling an authoritative statement on that.