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Exploring Fort George in Belize City

Looking up at the top of narrow Fort George Lighthouse silhouetted against the sky.
Towering over the coastline, the Fort George Lighthouse was built as part of the memorial for Baron Bliss, Belize’s greatest benefactor. Photo © Nick M., licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Map of Downtown Belize City
Downtown Belize City
The Fort George area, a peninsula ringed by Marine Parade Boulevard and Fort Street, is one of the most pleasant in Belize City. Meander in the neighborhood and you’ll pass some impressive homes and buildings, including a few charming old guesthouses. The Baron Bliss Memorial and Fort George Lighthouse stand guard over it all.

The sea breeze can be pleasant here, and you can glimpse cayes and ships offshore. Once you round the point, the road becomes Marine Parade and runs past the modern Radisson Fort George Hotel and Memorial Park, a grassy salute to the 40 Belizeans who lost their lives in World War I.

From the Radisson Fort George marina, you’ll get a good view of the harbor. Originally this was Fort George Island; the strait separating the island from the mainland (the site of today’s Memorial Park) was filled in during the early 1920s. The entire area is undergoing a road facelift but remains easy to navigate on foot.

Baron Bliss Memorial

Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss, also known as the “Fourth Baron Bliss of the Former Kingdom of Portugal,” was born in the county of Buckingham in England. He first sailed into the harbor of Belize in 1926, although he was too ill to go ashore because of food poisoning he had contracted while visiting Trinidad. Bliss spent several months aboard his yacht, the Sea King, in the harbor, fishing in Belizean waters. Although he never got well enough to go ashore, Bliss learned to love the country from the sea, and its habitués—people on fishing boats and officials in the harbor—all treated him with great respect and friendliness. On the days that he was only able to languish on deck, he made every effort to learn about the small country. He was apparently so impressed with what he learned and the people he met that before his death, he drew up a will that established a trust of nearly US$2 million for projects to benefit the people of Belize.

More than US$1 million in interest from the trust has been used for the erection of the Bliss Institute, the Bliss School of Nursing, and Bliss Promenade as well as contributions to the Belize City water supply, the Corozal Town Board and Health Clinic, and land purchase for the building of Belmopan.

An avid yachtsman, Bliss stipulated that money be set aside for a regatta to be held in Belizean waters, now a focal point of the gala Baron Bliss Day celebrations each March, an important holiday that is now called National Heroes and Benefactors Day. The baron’s white granite tomb is at the point of Fort George in Belize City, guarded by the Fort George Lighthouse and the occasional pair of late-night Belizean lovers.

Fort George Lighthouse

Towering over the coastline and facing the Belize Harbor, the Fort George Lighthouse was built as part of the memorial for Baron Bliss, Belize’s greatest benefactor. In fulfillment of his dying wish and financed with the generous proceeds he left the country, the tall structure was erected next to his tomb and memorial. While the public cannot enter the lighthouse, it remains an important, historic landmark in Belize City and is easy to spot while touring the Fort George area. The views from there also make for a nice photo op.

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