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Tony Rath's

 
PLACES TO SEE > 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 most likely controlled trade routes to and from Chetumal and other Yucatan cities within present-day Mexico and Guatamala. Mayans inhabited Santa Rita from 2000 B.C. to approximately the 16th century A.D, when residents forced conquistador Alfonso Davila to leave. The city's population slowly dwindled thereafter and finally abandoned the area late in the century.

Chamber at Santa Rita Mayan Site in Corozal
Chamber at Santa Rita Mayan Site in Corozal
Entrance to Santa Rita Mayan Site
Entrance to Santa Rita Mayan Site

Excavations uncovering fishing net sinkers and objects made from seashells and stingray spines implicate Santa Rita was an important lookout for a chain of coastal towns. Remains of rulers adorned in jade and mica jewelry dating from 300 A.D as well as remains of elite adorned with golden ear decorations dating just prior to the Spanish conquest exemplify the commanding and influential role Santa Rita played within the surrounding area of the Yucatan Peninsula. Just remember New York City is less than 400 years old-Santa Rita thrived nine times longer!

Main Stairway at Santa Rita
Main Stairway at Santa Rita

Of the many original buildings of Santa Rita, only one still stands partially excavated fifty feet above ground. Two of four rooms once used as living quarters remain intact and open for exploration. Many of the original sculptured friezes have been removed or damaged since the sites discovery. Superstitious natives destroyed several murals in the surrounding area before the first archaeologists exploring the city at the turn of the twentieth century could duplicate them.

Inner chamber with face on wall
Inner Chamber with Face Carved into Wall
Architectural mask detail on temple
Architectural Mask Detail on Temple

To access the site, take the road north to the border from Corozal. Continue left on a smaller road as the highway veers right. Santa Rita is located on a small hill at the northwest edge of town between the two roads near the Corozal hospital and power plant. The site's main pyramid sits directly across the Coca-Cola factory; sit atop this ancient structure and watch twenty-first century industry unfold before you.

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La MilpaChan ChichCuello

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