"Belize city" Belize by Sambawalk

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Belize city

Belize City was founded (originally as "Belize Town") in the mid-17th century by British lumber harvesters. It had previously been a small Maya city called Holzuz.

Belize Town was ideal for the British as a central post because it was on the sea and a natural outlet for local rivers and creeks down which the British shipped logwood and mahogany. Belize Town also became the home of the thousands of African slaves brought in by the British to assist in the forest industry. It was the coordination site for the 1798 Battle of St. George's Caye, won by the British against would-be invaders, and the home of the local courts and government officials up to the 1970s. For this reason, historians often say that "the capital was the Colony", because the center of British control was here.

Temple of the Masonry Altars - Altun Ha

Altun Ha is a modern name in the Maya language, coined by translating the name of the nearby village of Rockstone Pond. The ancient name is at present unknown.
Altun Ha is made up of two central plazas surrounded by towering temples that enclose the palm strewn land. The larger of the two plazas, Plaza A, is the site of a mysterious tomb discovered beneath one of the temples called Temple of the Green Tomb. Jade, jewelry, flints and skins are among the three hundred remnants that were unearthed here.

The Temple of the Masonry Altars is Altun Ha's largest temple and is thought to have been the focal point of the community's religious activities. It is 54 feet (16 m) high. A single stairway climbs the temple to an altar perched at the peak. Inside, several tombs were discovered that are believed to have kept the bodies of Altun Ha's high priests. One of these digs yielded a priceless piece of history in the form of a 15-centimeter high, jade head of the Maya Sun God, Kinich Ahau.

The site covers an area of about 5 miles (8 km) square. The central square mile of the site has remains of some 500 structures.

Altun Ha is not the easiest place to reach if you're traveling without a guide. A daily bus from Cinderella Plaza in Belize City passes the village of Lucky Strike, a two-mile walk to Altun Ha, on the way to Maskall.

  • Last visit to Belize: Oct 2007
  • Intro Updated Dec 7, 2008
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