Belize Temples and Archaeology
Belize was once the center of one of the greatest civilizations of antiquity and is considered to have been the heart of Maya civilization during the Classic period. Today, you can tour authentic sites left by this great culture and experience mystical Belize Maya temples for yourself. Our website provides an overview of known Maya sites, so you can explore on your vacation … and become one with the Maya.
Belize shares a rich Maya heritage with the neighboring countries of Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras. Belize’s Maya occupation began as early as 1500 BC but it was not until the Classic period of 250 AD to 900 AD that the Maya population is thought to have exceeded 1 million people in Belize.
However, much about the ancient Maya remains a mystery now.
Before the arrival of the Europeans, the ancient civilization thrived in this region, forming vast cities and building remarkable Maya temples. The Maya once lived in an area that stretched from Central Mexico to El Salvador. The ancient Maya are the ancestors of the modern-day Maya in Belize.
Today there are three groups of Maya living in Belize: the Kekchi Maya, the Mopan Maya and the Yucatec Maya. The basic values and customs of these three groups of Maya are quite similar, but their languages have considerable differences.
To experience Maya culture in Belize, check with your hotel or local tour operators to see if modern Maya communities and ancient Maya temples are open for exploration. Some contemporary Maya families will happily welcome you and are delighted to share their culture.
Ancient Belize temples
The Spanish conquered most Maya societies throughout Mesoamerica, and forced Christianity on the Maya belief system. The surviving tribes abandoned their vast cities and sought safety amidst the dense jungles of Belize.
After the arrival of the Spanish, the British arrived. There are survivors’ reports made by the British in the settlement at that time of the “Indians” that claim they would attack and plunder the camps. There were also appeals for reinforcements. Today, we know that the “Indians” to which they referred were the Maya.
Belize Maya temples of the ancient culture include pottery, skeletons, stelae, tall palaces, Mayan temples and ceremonial centers.
It is estimated that there are thousands of Maya Belize sites – but only a few of these have been found and even fewer have been excavated by scientists.