Belize City Attractions

Belize City was developed by the hard work and enterprise of the British ‘Baymen’ who immediately saw potential in the interior hardwood forests that covered most of Belize. From as early as the 18th century, Belize City, then known as ‘Belize Town’, had already been identified as an ideal location for settling and conducting commercial activities. Belize City’s attractions are part of the town’s cultural background and are very interesting due to the diversity of cultures and ethnic groups found in Belize.

Although Belize City is no longer the capital of Belize (now Belmopan) over a quarter of the Belize’s population resides there since Belize City has remained very busy, full of commercial and entertainment activities. Belize City has two main divisions, the north and south, which are marked by the world’s only manually operated Swing Bridge that was built at the mouth of one of the Belize River’s main tributaries, the Haulover Creek.

One of Belize City’s attractions is the Marine Terminal, which is found in the north of Belize City and used as a main terminal for ferries traveling to and from the offshore cayes. Two of Belize City’s major Museums, namely the Marine Museum and Coastal Zone Museum, form part of the Marine Terminal, and there, a variety of exhibits of Belize’s reefs, cayes, boat building and fishing industries are showcased.

St. John’s Cathedral, considered the oldest cathedral in Central America dates back to the days of African slavery in Belize. St. John’s Cathedral is located on Albert Street, the commercial center of Belize City where many buildings such as banks, stores, a market plaza and gift shops are found. The Government House is another important historical building in Belize City. Today, it serves as a museum where paintings and other Belizean items that are typical to the period when Belize was called British Honduras are exhibited. The Government House was the official residence of the Queen of England’s representative in Belize, the Governor General.

The Museum of Belize is described as one of the most compelling and newest tourist attractions in Belize City. It is set up in the former Her Majesty’s Prison that was abandoned in 1993 and constructed in 1857. The Museum of Belize is in Gabourel Lane, downtown Belize City and was inaugurated in 2002. The Museum of Belize highlights art pieces that cover the entire period of Mayan civilization, including exhibits of different Belizean species of butterflies. The second floor of the museum is dedicated to archeological artifacts that display and explain the wonders of the Mayan civilization; its culture, religion and society.

Another of Belize City’s major tourist attractions is the Fort George Lighthouse which was once used as a fort by the British during the colonial era. The lighthouse is secluded by a creek from the rest of Belize City. Adjacent to the Fort George Lighthouse is the Baron Bliss Tomb and Memorial which was built in honour of Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss who was among Belize’s most important beneficiaries. He is said to have donated a very large sum of money to the Belizean people for the hospitality that was given to him during his last days on the country’s coast. March 9th is a national holiday commemorating the death of Baron Bliss.

The Crooked Tree is a small town that has been preserved as a wildlife and bird sanctuary. There, the Cashew Festival, an arts festival that showcases cultural items and Belizean art and craft, is held. The Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary features several species of resident and migratory tropical birds and is a favorite spot for bird watching and other activities such as canoeing along the river or snorkeling and diving on the coastal regions of the sanctuary.

Other attractions of interest around Belize City are the Altun Ha Archeological Site, where the temple of the Green Tomb and Temple of the Masonry Altars are located. The Belize Zoo houses many animals that are indigenous both to Belize and Latin America. This is coupled with the Community Baboon Sanctuary which serves as a haven for Belizean wildlife, as well as other Belize City attractions such as the Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary and Monkey Bay National Park where swimming and water activities take place.