San Antonio, Belize Tourist Attractions
San Antonio is the Toledo District's second largest town and the most developed of the Mayan villages in the district, with running water, electricity and a village telephone. Arranged on winding roads throughout the foothills of the Maya Mountains, San Antonio is a quintessential Mayan village; complete with thatch-roof structures, brightly dressed villagers and roaming livestock.San Antonio's Mopan Maya are descended from the settlers of San Luis Peten; a Guatemalan village, who fled during oppression in the mid-1800s. San Antonio is the most visited of the Mayan villages of Toledo.
Pacbitun Archaeological Site
Pacbitun (Mayan for "Stones Set in Earth") is one of the oldest Mayan sites in Belize and seems to have been occupied throughout most of Mayan history, between 900 BC and AD 900. The site is small, covering only 74ac/30ha, and features 25 temples and pyramids. Eight stela (pillar monuments), a ball court and an unusual raised irrigation system are also present.Archaeological work did not begin at Pacbitun until 1971, although local farmers knew of its existence for generations. In 1987 some of the site's structures were reconstructed. The graves of female Mayan nobility were discovered, which included rare musical instruments. Other artifacts discovered in Pacbitun include green obsidian, which suggests that Pacbitun was involved in trade with other Mayan centers.
Tanah Mayan Art Museum
Established by well-known Belizean artists, the Garcia sisters, the Tanah Mayan Art Museum displays interesting slate carvings and Mayan artifacts including household and agricultural tools. The Garcia sisters also collect their own slabs of slate and meticulously carve figures of Mayan rulers and elders. Carvings from the museum have been displayed in the USA, Germany, England, Costa Rica and several other places. The on-site handicraft shop sells carvings, baskets and other crafts.
Address: c/o The Garcia Sisters, Box 75, Belize
Opening hours: 7am-6pm
Always opened on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Baron Bliss Day - Belize (Mar 9), Commonwealth Day - Belize (May 25), Independence Day - Belize (Sep 21), National Day - Belize (Sep 10), Pan American Day - Belize (Oct 12), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Day after Christmas, St Stephen's Day, Boxing Day (Dec 26), Easter - Christian
Useful tips: The Tanah Mayan Art Museum is often included on excursions from San Ignacio or Punta Gorda.
Facilities: Gift shop
Feast of St Luis Festival (Deer Dance Festival)
Held annually in August, the St Luis Festival celebrates the harvest and features the famous Deer Dance. Taking place over several days, the dance uses colorful costumes and masks to reenact historical moments and celebrate Mayan culture.
San Antonio Church
San Antonio's church dominates the village center, and was built from limestone stones salvaged from Mayan ruins. The church's attractive stained-glass windows were taken from a church in St Louis, Missouri.