Cobán is a prosperous city with an upbeat air.
As you enter Cobán, a sign says 'Bienvenidos a Cobán, Ciudad Imperial,' referring to the city charter granted in 1538 by Emperor Carlos V.
The town was once the center of Tezulutlán (Tierra de Guerra, or 'Land of War'), a stronghold of the Rabinal Maya.
In the 19th century, when German immigrants moved in and founded vast coffee and cardamom fincas (plantations), Cobán took on the aspect of a German mountain town, as the finca owners built town residences. The era of German cultural and economic domination ended during WWII, when the USA prevailed upon the Guatemalan government to deport the powerful finca owners, many of whom actively supported the Nazis.
Guatemala's most impressive festival of indigenous traditions, the national folklore festival of Rabin Ajau with its traditional dance of the Paabanc, takes place here in the latter part of July or in the first week of August. The national orchid show is hosted here every December.