Saturday, April 9, 2011

Places to Visit in Belize City

Belize has many wonderful places to visit in various districts but we thought we could focus on telling you about some of the places to visit in Belize City, the largest City with a population of 65,042 according to the most recent Population and Housing Census. Belize Town which is now Belize City was once the Capital City of British Honduras which was changed to Belize in 1973.
The origin of the name Belize is unclear, some say its from the native Maya word beel-is, meaning "muddy water", applied to the Belize River, others say that it is derived from a Spanish pronunciation of the name of the Scottish buccaneer Peter Wallace, who was located in an early settlement along the Belize River.  Belize once being home to the slaves had a sizable population of Africans from the ancient Kingdom of Kongo, who could have brought the name with them, as there is a Belize in Angola as well.

Belize City was founded as Belize Town in the mid 17th century at the mouth of the Belize River by the British Buccaneers who used thousands of slaves to harvest lumber and float them down the rivers for export. Today we can still see remnants of the British influences here in Belize City. Two of the major streets in Belize City namely Regent Street and Albert Street are of times gone by when the British had influences in Belize as well as names as Bliss Promenade and Marine Parade. Today we can still see customs that are still being observed without the Belizean citizens knowing their true origins. One of those such customs are people wearing their best clothes and going out to the parks on Sundays to enjoy the parks with their kids. This custom was brought to us by the British who on Sundays would wear wear their best suits and the women their best dresses with parasol in hand took off to the parks for a day of relaxation and meetings with other settlers and their children or a leisurely walk along the promenade or parade.
Today we can still see many remnants of those influences in the British Colonial Architecture located in buildings all over the city. We will cover a few locations for you to see the beauty of Belize City as well as a few historic locations. These locations are certainly a must see because of their historic and architectural value when visiting Belize City.
The first Location we will tell you about is what is currently known as the Belize Supreme Court Building. This was Built in the British Colonial Style with a clock tower facing the four points on the compass. The original courthouse was destroyed by fire in 1818 and in 1926 the courthouse was rebuilt to house the Supreme Court and is currently being used today.
Belize Supreme Court
The second location is Saint John's Cathedral located at the intersection of Albert and Regent Streets and across from House of Culture which was formerly the residence of the Governor General. The Cathedral was built in the Early 1800 using slave labor with bricks that were brought as ballasts in the hull of ships travelling from Europe. This is not only the oldest surviving colonial building in Belize but the oldest Anglican Cathedral in Central America. It is said that the building started in 1812 and it is believed to have taken 8 years to build which puts completion in the year of 1820. You can find great architectural touches on the interior with the mahogany pews, stained glass windows and even an antique organ.
Saint John's Cathedral - Belize City
Immediately across from Saint John's Cathedral you can find what is now known as the Belize House of Culture.
Built in 1814 this home was once called "Government House" housing both the administrative offices and the living quarters for the Governors and was the symbol of the British Colonial rule in the former colony of British Honduras. Before the mansions name was changed in 1996 to the name we know today it was the residence of the Governor General of Belize who is a representative of the Queen in Belize. Extensive renovations have been made to maintain the architectural integrity while converting it for public use. Today you can still tour this marvelous location exhibiting furniture, silverware among other things of the British colonial days past as well as exhibits of Belizean artists. The House of Culture is still used today for public events and open air concerts.
Belize House of Culture
The next location known as Baron Bliss Lighthouse is of historical significance to the country of Belize. What is of great importance is the person who lies in the tomb at the base of the lighthouse overlooking the entry to the Belize River.
Henry Edward Victor Bliss commonly known as Baron Bliss (16 February 1869 – 9 March 1926), was a British born sailor who unfortunately contracted polio and decided to travel the world in a luxury yacht named the "Sea King". After spells in the Bahamas, Trinidad and Jamaica, he arrived in Belize harbor, where he found Belize's climate suitable for him, He became fond of the local people and because of his physical condition never set foot on Belizean soil. He died in Belize only 2 months after he arrived. Loving the people and the nation so much he willed an equivalent of approximately 2 Million US Dollars at that time to a trust fund to benefit the people of then British Honduras. Today many buildings have been named in his honor Bliss Center for the Performing Arts formerly Bliss Institute, Bliss School of Nursing and many others. Belize Celebrates in his honor every March 9th, National Benefactors and Heroes Day formerly known as Baron Bliss Day.
Baron Bliss Lighthouse - Belize City
The Belize Swing Bridge was the first bridge that was built in 1922 connecting the north and south sides of the city. This Belize Swing Bridge is the only manually operated swing bridge that is still functioning today. The bridge was swung every morning and every evening allowing sailboats access to the inner parts of the river. Today the Belize Swing Bridge only swung on special request. This is truly a site to see when its swinging.
Belize Swing Bridge
Holy Redeemer Cathedral was originally built in 1853 just a short distance away from its present location on North Front Street in Belize City. Just 3 years after the construction of the Cathedral was completed in 1856 it was tragically destroyed by the Great Northside Fire. With the determination of the people and the catholic church, just one year later in 1857 the church started rebuilding at its present location to be completed 1 year after in 1857. Its plastered brick walls, massive columns of solid mahogany, and its soaring high altar of classic Greco-Roman design withstood the ravages of catastrophic hurricanes and nearby conflagrations over the years. The passage of time and termites, however, have left their marks. The Holy Redeemer Cathedral has undergone several additions and renovations and today is in dire need of repair that in 2001 they launched a renovation campaign to save its roof, bell towers, stained glass windows, interior woodwork, central portico and side entrances. The Cathedral is still in use today as it was over 150 years ago.
Holy Redeemer Cathedral
Our next location is a narrow strip of  land in front of the Caribbean Sea on the coast of Belize City that was called Barracks, Lindbergh's Field or Lindbergh's Landing.
There was once a time in Belize when travel was by horse and carriage and the flight of a well known pilot known as Charles Lindbergh changed the face of Belize and opened up the doors for air transport in Belize.
Colonel Charles Lindbergh also known as the "Lone Eagle" after his triumphant transatlantic voyage was approached by Pan American Airways to fly a goodwill mission to scout new routes in Central America and the Caribbean. He departed Washington D.C. in his famous plane "The Spirit of Saint Louis" just before Christmas on his way to Mexico City then Guatemala City before landing in Belize.
Charles Lindbergh arrived in Belize on December 30th, 1927. Coming across the southern border of Belize in overcast weather, Charles Lindbergh  strayed over water and while coming through the clouds turned westward to make landfall around Stann Creek however the only available place with weather permitting him to land was to the north in Belize City. Charles Lindbergh and the Spirit of Saint Louis landed safely in Belize to the excitement of the waiting crowds who immediately surrounded the plane after he landed. This location that Charles Lindbergh chose is a well known area known as Barracks on the north side of Belize City which was once a site used by the Golf, Cricket and Polo Clubs for matches. The site for many years was known as Lindbergh's Field or Lindberg'sh Landing. Today this location has seen development and is now home to BTL Park, Princess Hotel and Casino, Bowen Field as well as Marina Tower.
BTL Park - Marina Tower in Background
Belize has a long standing history in Central America and the Caribbean and is certainly has alot of history that can be seen everywhere you turn. If you would just know where to look you can find many great locations that hold stories if the past. We will cover some of these locations later in great detail revealing their history. We will also cover other sites to visit in other Districts in Belize to include, Orange Walk, Corozal, Cayo, Stann Creek and Toledo.

Make sure to come back and visit our blog for more fabulous locations in Belize.

Brought to you courtesy of Platinum International Real Estate who has the privilege of working around such great locations in Belize. If you or someone you know are looking to Buy, Sell or Lease Properties in Belize be sure to contact them immediately.

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