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Though the archaeological sites in Northern Belize offer some of the most important discoveries anywhere within the Mayan region, they are (with the exception of Lamanai) not as impressive as other sites in the Yucatan and Central America. In many cases this is due to the absence of reconstruction or even excavation. Today, as in Mayan times, the soils around Orange Walk and Corozal are some of the most fertile in Belize and therefore attracted ancient settlements throughout Northern Belize. Irrigation canals and raised fields attest to the argricultural skill of the Maya in this region.


The remains of crumbling ancient Mayan structures speckle the Belizean countryside and remind visitors of powerful regimes of the distant past.

view of Stela 9 in situ on structure N-10-27 at Lamanai
The unique history and beauty of the Mayan site of Lamanai of the Orange Walk district distinguishes it from its neighbors and mystifies guests with an aura of supremacy still felt throughout the surrounding forest.

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MAYAN SITES > Santa Rita

Encircling Corozal, Santa Rita may be the most accessible ruin in northern Belize. Because the site resembles the Mayan city of Chetumal (or Chactemal), Santa Rita is believed to be a vestige of this larger metropolis.

Santa Rita
Santa Rita most likely controlled trade routes to and from Chetumal and other Yucatan cities within present-day Mexico and Guatamala.

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Compared with other Mayan sites in the area, Cerros suffered in early decline sometime after 250 A.D.

Possibly abandoned due to the economic growth of the inland cities, Cerros served as an important jade and obsidian trading center during its heyday from 400 B.C. to 100 A.D.

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La Milpa archaeological site lies within the Rio Bravo Conservation Area, a 250,000-acre tract of land preserved for research and sustainable use by the Programme for Belize.

La Milpa
The Programme for Belize is a private, non-profit, Belize-based organization dedicated to the conservation and management of Belize's natural resources, namely the Rio Bravo area.

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MAYAN SITES > Chan Chich

Nestled within 130,000 acres of protected forest, Chan Chich offers visitors close encounters with diverse tropical wildlife and the remains of an ancient Mayan empire that seems as interconnected with the region as a ship in the sea.

Chan Chich
Chan Chich, meaning "little bird," names the area, the river that runs nearby, and the lodge that sits directly in the middle of a lower plaza in one of the main centers.

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While most Mayan archaeological sites can be described as "ancient," Cuello deserves a different description. Nearly all cities of the Mayan civilization have revealed a cultural burgeoning beginning around 900 B.C. CuelloRecent excavations at Cuello have shattered that perception and pushed the start date of Mayan sprawl all the way back to 2600 B.C.

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Now devoid of its former religious power, the once prominent Mayan ceremonial site of Nohmul still rises high above the treetops in the Orange Walk district. NolmulNohmul, meaning "Great Mound," sits atop a limestone ridge extending west from the Orange Walk/Corozal boundary a mile west of the San Pablo village.

The site consists of two twin ceremonial clusters surrounded by several plazas and connected by a central causeway, or "sacbe". A pyramid structure built upon a raised platform is still one of the tallest buildings in the Orange Walk and Corozal districts. Situated amongst sugarcane fields seven and a half miles north of Orange Walk on the Northern Highway, the site is best accessed by bus or car. Daily buses that run from Belize City or from Orange Walk pass by frequently and can drop off visitors directly at the entrance to Nohmul in San Pablo.

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