Spanish Churches

Northern Belize

Some 400yd south of Jaguar Temple are the remains of the thick stone walls of two Spanish colonial churches, which were built by Maya forced labor from the remains of a temple. The southern church was built in 1544, and the northern one in the 1560s. Both were destroyed by the Maya, the second one in the 1640 rebellion.

Unknown to the Spanish, the Maya placed sacred objects such as crocodile figurines inside the churches while building them. A 300yd path opposite the churches leads to the partly overgrown remains of a 19th-century sugar mill, which some say directly contributed to the final abandonment of Lamanai by bringing new diseases into the area.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Northern Belize attractions

1. Lamanai

0.13 MILES

Perhaps the most fascinating Maya site in Northern Belize, Lamanai lies 24 miles south of Orange Walk Town up the New River (or 36 miles by unpaved road)…

2. Lamanai Museum

0.18 MILES

In the main administrative building where you pay your entrance fee, this small museum features artifacts unearthed throughout the Lamanai complex,…

3. Jaguar Temple

0.27 MILES

This temple (Structure N10-9), fronting a 100yd-wide plaza, was built in the 6th century AD and modified several times up to at least the 15th century – a…

4. Ball Court

0.39 MILES

Not far west of Stela 9 is Lamanai's ball court, one of the smallest in the Maya world – but with the largest ball-court marker found yet! A ceremonial…

5. Stela 9

0.44 MILES

North of the elite residential complex, this temple was the original site of the intricately carved standing stone erected in AD 625 to commemorate the…

6. High Temple

0.48 MILES

North of the ball court, across a plaza shaded by trees, is Structure N10-43, the highest at Lamanai, which rises 125ft above the jungle canopy. Few large…

7. Mask Temple

0.54 MILES

The Mask Temple (Structure N9-56) was begun around 200 BC and modified several times up to AD 1300. It has two 13ft stylized masks of a man in a crocodile…

8. Maya Structures

0.63 MILES

At the far north end of the Lamanai site, and often missed by tour groups, this large platform, 120yd by 100yd in area, supports several large buildings…