Many tourists to Belize treat Belize City as merely a transit point. They fly into the Philip Goldson International Airport (BZE) and immediately catch a flight, water taxi or bus to other destinations. That’s a shame, as Belize City is worth a visit. Currently Belize’s largest city, Belize City started in the 17th century as a simple logging camp exporting mahogany to Europe. Later, British pirates established a base here from which to loot Spanish ships.
When Belize became a British Crown Colony, Belize City was the center of government. However, by the time independence was declared in 1981, the capitol had been moved to Belmopan. Nevertheless, Belize City remains the commercial center of the country as well as being a historical and cultural gem.
Lovers of history will enjoy visiting the oldest Anglican church in Central America, St. John’s Cathedral, which is located in Belize City. So are the Supreme Court and the Government House, as well as the Museum of Belize. This modern museum houses fascinating displays and historic photos which help you step back in time. It also contains beautiful Maya jade artifacts, an exhibit on the history of slavery in the country, and an art gallery.
The Old Capital
Culturally, Belize City is incredibly cosmopolitan. Not only are there descendants of the Maya here, but also Creoles, Garifuna, Mestizos and immigrants from other parts of Central and South America as well as from China, Lebanon, India and many other places. The Swing Bridge, the only manual swing bridge in the world, is located in the center of the city’s commercial activity.
This bustling area is quite an experience for tourists. Here they will hear many different languages being spoken and see all sorts of people. It’s quite busy, with crowds, activity and street hawkers offering everything from jewellery to key chains. Despite the crowds, you don’t need to worry about your safety during the day as the police visibly keep order. However, as with visiting any city, there are parts of Belize City that are less safe. For this reason, you might consider taking a guided tour.
In addition to steering you clear of the less savoury parts of the city, a knowledgeable guide will enrich your experience and make sure you don’t miss any sights you will want to see. As you can see, vibrant, multiracial and historic Belize City is well worth a visit.
Where to Stay in Belize City
Should you stay here, the Radisson Fort George Hotel & Marina offers a full service luxury retreat. It’s a tranquil getaway that even offers babysitting services! Another great option when visiting Belize City is the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel. Located close to the airport, this modern hotel features many tour packages, making it a very convenient base from which to see the sights in the area.