A Maya ruin in norther Belize that dates
from 1000 B.C., Santa Rita is what remains of Chactemal (modern-day Chetumal, Quintana Roo Mexico) an ancient
Mayan city that is the genesis of the Mestizo people after the first European contact in the region. Santa
Rita controlled trade routes within the boundaries of today's Mexico and Guatemala. Excavations have revealed
fishing net sinkers and other objects, which point to Santa Rita's coastal importance. Remains of rulers with
jade and mica ornamentation, as well as others with gold ear decorations, show that the Mayan city had a
commanding role for trade in the Yucatan Peninsula and surrounding areas.
Santa Rita is located on the outskirts of Corozal Town and is bordered
on the east by the Caribbean Sea.
Santa Rita was first settled by Maya farmers around 1000 BC. Evidence for this early phase of
occupation is provided by Swasey style pottery that represents some of the earliest ceramics discovered in the Maya lowlands. In the late
pre-classic period, from 300 BC to A.D. 300, the settlement expanded but continued to be based primarily on
The modern town of Corozal was founded in the mid 1800s and encircles the ancient city of
Santa Rita. At its height this site extended from present day Paraiso in the north to the south end of
Corozal. This site, bordered on the east by the sea, is situated on a limestone plateau typical of northern
Belize which supports a low forest where game abounds.
Just north of the center is the Rio Hondo. Along its banks there are large areas of swampland
where the Maya created raised fields. These supported the cacao plantations for which the province was
The seacoast gave this site access to a wide variety of marine resources. Santa Rita is
located on the outskirts of Corozal just off the main road leading to the Mexican
Frequent buses between Belize City and Corozal pass by this site. There are several flights
from Belize City. Accommodations are available in Corozal Town.
Santa Rita is easy to find if you have a rented vehicle. From Corozal Town, go north on the
road that leads to the Mexico border. At the northern Corozal Town exit go straight up the road that leads to
the Corozal Hospital. Santa Rita is just a bit further on your right, just before you get to the Coca Cola
factory. ~ Anthony Benjamin