Discover Belize City
Belize City is one of the main urban epicenters in the country. Its limits span to 8 miles up the George Price Highway and 14 miles up the Phillip Goldson Highway. Belize City’s coordinates are 17˚15’ North Longitude and 88˚45’ West Latitude. This city is the most populous in the entire country with over 80,000 inhabitants. Belize City offers visitors a diverse experience of Caribbean charm with unexpected modernization.
Belize City is divided into two main areas: North side and South side. Its limit on the north side is at the Haulover Bridge which sits at the mouth of the old Belize River where it meets the Caribbean Sea. The north side ends in the east at the Fort George area. Belize City south side limits extends to the outskirts of the city limits to the George Price Highway.
Often considered the safest and most prosperous are in the city, north side Belize City has many amenities and attractions like nice hotels, a casino, cruise ship terminals and the Museum of Belize. South side Belize City also has tourist attractions like St. John’s Cathedral and the House of culture, though not as popular as the north side.
There are three bridges in Belize City- Belcan Bridge, Belchina Bridge and Swing Bridge. These bridges join the north and south sides of Belize City. The Swing Bridge is the only functioning manually operated bridge in the entire world.
Because the city is built from East going inwards, most of the older colonial-style homes can be found closer to the coast. The House of Culture (formerly Government House) was formerly the home of the British governor, but it now serves as a museum displaying old artifacts from the home and the Queen. Near there is St. John’s Cathedral, the oldest Anglican church in Central America.
Belize City was originally designed by British colonizers to be used mostly by bicycles and mule-drawn carts, but now the narrow streets are congested with vehicles and motorcycles as well as bicycles and pedestrians. These streets were also designed with very poor to nonexistent drainage making them prone to pot holes and flooding when it rains.
Belize City is growing. First it was mostly populated mainly around the central ports, but now, a drive up both highways can reveal developing housing developments and businesses. Although, many areas, within city limits along the highways, remain undeveloped savannahs.
Although not a popular tourist destination in itself, cruise passengers based in Belize City are in close proximity to many popular destinations such as San Pedro Town, Altun Ha Maya ruin, the Belize Zoo, and other wildlife sanctuaries. The Phillip S.W. Goldson International Airport is just a few minutes’ drive away from Belize City. The municipal airport which provides flights nationally and regionally, as well as the water taxis that provide transportation to and from the popular Cayes (islands) are located in the city center.
Origin of Belize City
Belize City originated in the 1600’s as a lo0gging camp and export center for the mahogany industry. Originally populated by the Mayas, the British and Scottish pirates took over and used the city as a hideout in which they would loot passing Spanish ships for their treasures. With such a culturally diverse past, modern day Belize City is still filled with many different cultures including the Creole, Garifuna, Latino, Chinese, Lebanese, Hindu, East Indian and Mayans.
Most parts of Belize City resemble a rundown city with poorly maintained structures and pothole infested streets. However the main commercial centroid along North Front Street, Queen Street and Albert Street is has recently been updated and is home to some of the most prosperous business in the City. All of the commercial banks and most large shopping centers are found in this area.
Tourists entering from the cruise ships at the tourist village port have easy access to this part of the City as their ship docks a few blocks east of the Swing Bridge on North Front Street. Although far from a tourist attraction, a walk through downtown Belize City can give tourists a very good look at what everyday life might entail for most Belizeans. Many of the best restaurants, bars and stores are located in Belize City despite its sometimes dilapidated appearance.
If you’re in the city to explore and shop, the best way to get around is to walk. The streets are narrow and traffic is usually always hectic. With an abundance of stores side by side down Albert Street, you’ll have the most enjoyable experience simply walking along the sidewalk and browse the stores.