If you happen to know a city title same as its Country name; it has to Belize!
Belize City was once the capital city of Belize, adjacent to the Caribbean Sea on its East Coast and Mexico to its northwest border; located on the northeastern coast of Central America it was the only British colony in the continent back then in 1862.
Belize City is still a major cultural and financial hub of the country, even though it’s tag of being the capital city got switched to Belmopan in 1970 after it got hit by a severe hurricane and flooding which saw the city being swept off to a major damage. There’s a lot more this city has to offer than you would imagine; so come, let’s have a glimpse of it.
1. Mayan City of Altun Ha
Being a British colony is not the only historic background Belize City has; surrounded by the rain forest around it with rich flora and fauna is the model city of Maya civilization, Altun Ha.The earliest settlement of Maya civilization at Altun Ha dates back to 200 B.C. with two major plazas namely the‘Temple of the Green Tomb’ and ‘Temple of the Masonry Altars’; which you can as well notice on the national currency of Belize.These structures would surely make you witness the architectural accomplishment of the Mayan civilization.
2. John’s Cathedral
The church that defined itself as England’s principal headquarter in Central America during their time of colonial rule is to be found in the very heart of Belize City. This architectural marvel still stands as the oldest surviving construction done by any European native in the whole of Belize. If you ever do visit St. John’s Cathedral make sure to at least spend an hour or so exploring the splendid wooden interior, the huge accoutrements and of course the inheritance that the cathedral has to offer.
3. Museum of Belize
What if you came to know there is a museum which earlier was host to several prisoners; enticing isn’t it? Yes, you read that correct, built in the late 1850s is the declared National Museum of Belize; the city prison of Belize City until 1993. The museum makes every possible effort to share the exclusive history and experience of Belize’s culture and background, featuring ceramics and sculptures of Maya civilization exploring almost three thousand years of Mayan history alongside the prisoner’s chronicle and the colonial life that Belize witnessed.
4. Government House
Forenamed as the ‘House of Culture’ in 1998, the Government House is yet another historical museum which will certainly turn back the clock with every single step you explore in this colonial palace. Designed by the legendary British Architect, Sir Christopher Wren; its creation is the blend between vernacular architecture of the Caribbean along with an English touch to it. This Government House also hosted the first-ever flag hoisting witnessed by the Independent nation of Belize.
5. Holy Redeemer Cathedral
While most of the population in Belize follows Christianity, there are many diverse followings within. The Holy Redeemer Church is the first-ever Roman Catholic parish in Belize. Having massive columns of mahogany wood and pitched by brick walls, it has resisted most of the unfortunate hurricanes over time. The structure represents a contemporary architectural style.
6. Traveller’s Liquor Heritage Centre
Ornamented with the real authenticity and the love affair the Caribbean’s share with their rum, this heritage centre is the oldest distillery in Belize City. The tasting bar in here will surely make you feel like being in a Hollywood retro bar, offering you their bestselling One-Barrel as a sample along with twenty-nine other products manufactured locally. If you aren’t a boozehound you can still have a peek on the distillery equipments and the history of rum-making in Belize.
7. Memorial Park
Built in the memory of the deceased soldiers of WW1, the park renders the view of City’s landscape along the eastern coastline onward with the historic lighthouse visible in the background. The dusky sky in the Caribbean Sea and this lonesome park is nothing but all about inner peace and solitude.
8. Swing Bridge
Connecting the north and south faces of the City is this ‘Swing Bridge’; argued as the only swing bridge that is still operated manually. Traditionally swung twice a day, this bridge stands as a historic landmark and has a special place within every true citizen of Belize City. If you take some time being watchful in and around this celebrated bridge, one can easily connect with the local aura of the natives alongside a view of their traditional fishing boats moving around.
9. Baron Bliss Lighthouse
Elevated fifteen meters above the ground level is this Lighthouse coloured prominently in white and subtle red, built in the memory of Baron Bliss. At a glance, it might just look like any other customary lighthouse, but the story behind this spectacle is what makes it architecturally as well as historically very rich. Right next to the lighthouse is the memorial granite tomb of the sailor who never practically set foot on the land of Belize!
10. Bliss Centre for Performing Arts
Host to the annual Belize Film Festival, the Centre has it all. Including a 600-seater theatre, art gallery spaces, a library and a practicable cafeteria. Built-in International modernist style of architecture, the Bliss Centre for Performing Arts invites a lot of local and international art performances and events throughout the year. This crown jewel building of social and cultural events is the result of funding from Baron Bliss trust.
11. Bird’s Isle Restaurant
All been done, to miss out on delicious Caribbean cuisine would just be unfair, wouldn’t it? Located on the south-east coast of the city, true to its name is the Bird’s Isle restaurant; with thatched roof shacks, breath-taking views and delicious Belizean food. If one doesn’t hear Caribbean music in the background, it would be just surprising!
12. Supreme Court of Belize
The present Court building that we get to witness today is nothing but a replica of the same wooden structure that got burnt in 1918; pretty much the same structure than it was back then with just some necessary modifications. All judiciary buildings tend to have a social and political impact on any state; although they seem to be more vocal with any other viewer, since they are looked after by the people to serve and inspire them.
13. Xunantunich Maya Ruins
Technically not based in the City of Belize; it’s still a must-see for any architecture and archaeological lover. This archaeological site is located at just over an hour travel time from Belize City. First explored in the 1800s ‘Xunantunich’ Maya ruins translates as ‘Stone Women’. There is an on-site museum before entering the then Mayan City; major attraction here is the ‘El Castillo’, a pyramidal-shaped structure elevating 130ft above ground.
14. Old Belize
Whole experience and touring of Belize City can get tiring after a point. Although, located just on the outskirts of Belize City is the Historical adventure centre named ‘Old Belize’. This place make you relive the real authentic vibe of Belize packaged together. In case you missed any specific Belizean experience, Old Belize would just sum it up with its exhibits and museum tour that it offers. Plus, you can have a chill relaxed time with your family and friends whosoever you are with.
15. Fort Street Tourism Village
Typically, a cruise-ship terminal this place is the entry point for every cruise coming into the city. It’s more like a tourist mall catering restaurants and bars with several kiosks, cyber-cafes etc. on its extended plaza. With the sound of street musicians doing their usual drill it’s the perfect place to buy souvenirs and duty-free items to take back home.