Belize offers a variety of ancient Maya archaeological attractions for visitors to explore. More sites are being discovered and excavated all the time, contributing to an increasing understanding of the ancient Maya world.
While Belize was once thought to be on the fringe of the Maya civilization, recent discoveries has lead to the conclusion that Belize was, in fact, at the center of Maya civilization for much of Maya history.
Archaeology students working in Belize joke that just about anywhere you scoop up a trowel full of dirt in Belize, you are likely to discover something! The truth is that there are archaeological sites of significance in virtually every district in Belize and the remains of smaller, lesser known fishing, pottery, chert and salt production centers all over the country.
The institute of Archaeology manages and maintains all archaeological sites in Belize and provides educational visitors centers at many locations. Guides, many of them of Maya descent, can also make your visit more informative.
No matter what part of the country you decide to stay during your Belize adventure, you will find at least one ancient Maya ceremonial center nearby. In fact, you could spend a week exploring this lost world, and still not get to see all the wonders this advanced civilization left behind.
Altun Ha-– "Water of the Rock"
Altun Ha, the archaeological site closest to Belize City, was a major ceremonial center during the Classic Period. It functioned as a central trading link between the Caribbean coast and Maya centers in the interior. Two main plazas with some thirteen temples and residential structures have been excavated here.
Lubaantun - "Place of Fallen Stones"
Lubaantun, situated above a tributary to the Columbia River, lies near the Maya town of San Pedro Columbia in the Toledo District. It is the largest ceremonial center in the area consisting of eleven major structures, grouped around five main plazas, the temples are unique in that they were built entirely without the aid of mortar.
Xunantunich - "Stone Woman"
Overlooking the Mopan River, Xunantunich sits atop a hill overlooking the hills of the Cayo District. On a clear day, you can also see across into nearby Guatemala. Xunantunich was a major ceremonial center during the Classic Period.
Cahal Pech - "Place of the Ticks"
Cahal Pech Mayan ruin is located 15 minutes on the outskirts of San Ignacio, and was home to a Mayan Royal Family.
Lamanai - "Submerged Crocodile"
Lamanai was once considerably sized city of the Maya civilization in the north of Belize and is the third largest archaeological site in Belize. Three main temples over look a nearby lagoon which is a part of the New River.
Lost Mayan Ruins Expedition
With local bushmen as your guides, search for the lost Mayan ruins located around the 58,000 acre Caves Branch estate. Walk across unexcavated ceremonial plazas, and stand on the palaces and temples of ancient kings and priests amidst the eerie sounds of the jungle.