Belize // The north //

Santa Rita

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The small Maya site of Santa Rita (open 24hr; free) is within walking distance of the centre, about 15 minutes northwest of town; follow the main road towards the border, bear right at the fork and turn left at the Super Santa Rita store. Though it is an interesting enough spot if you have time to kill, the site is no longer maintained and does not justify extending your stay in Corozal. Founded around 1500 BC, Santa Rita was in all probability the powerful Maya city later known as Chactemal. It was still a thriving settlement in 1531 AD, when the conquistador Alonso Davila entered the town, only to be driven out almost immediately by Na Chan Kan, the Maya chief, and his Spanish adviser Gonzalo Guerrero. The main remaining building is a small pyramid, and excavations here have uncovered the burial sites of an elaborately bejewelled elderly woman and a Classic-period warlord.