St. John’s Cathedral – The Oldest Church in Belize City
Located in the heart of Belize City’s historic district is one of the most amazing European structures ever constructed in the New World. Built in 1812 by enslaved Africans using bricks that traveled across the Atlantic in the holds of ships, St. John’s Cathedral is a magnificent Anglican house of worship.
Officially, this magnificent structure is known as the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Baptist and was originally a parish church, the very first house of worship built by the British in the colony then known as British Honduras. Over time, the church was upgraded to the seat of the Church of English diocese in the New World and became the cornerstone of the colony’s capital, Belize City.
The exterior of the church is composed of bricks that were used as ballast aboard British ships. The interior features beautiful stained glass windows, an antique pipe organ, and pews and other furnishings made from local hardwoods like mahogany and sapodilla logged by the first English colonists known as Baymen who feature prominently on modern-day Belize’s flag.
Interestingly, St. John’s Cathedral is the only Anglican church in the world where six different heads of state were crowned. During the earliest days of the colony, the British coronated several kings of the local Miskito tribe in elaborate ceremonies. These attempts to form an alliance with the Miskitos in order to repel Spanish forces was short-lived, but touring the cathedral is a great way for modern-day visitors to learn more about the history of the British in Belize.
St. John’s Cathedral is currently located at the intersection of Albert and Regent Streets directly across from the Belize Culture House, which formerly served as the British imperial headquarters during the colonial period. There is no entrance fee to visit St. John’s Cathedral, and it is open to the public every day from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM. St. John’s Cathedral is still an active house of worship, so visitors are requested to respect the sanctity of the space.
Directly adjacent to St. John’s Cathedral is Yarborough Cemetery, the oldest colonial-era cemetery in the country. The cemetery saw its first use in 1787 and contains the remains of many of the colony’s most prominent citizens.
If you’d like to visit the magnificent St. John’s Cathedral and other sites of interest in downtown Belize City, be sure to book your tour with Black Orchid Resort.