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Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Castle National Monument




Location: Yavapai County, Arizona     Map

Occupied: 8th- 15th century

Official site




Description of Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Castle National Monument is located in Yavapai County, Arizona in USA. Montezuma Castle was rediscovered in the late 19th century. It was mistakenly linked to the last Aztec emperor Montezuma II who was killed by the Spaniards in the 16th century. However Montezuma Castle cliff- dwelling has a simpler and less romantic history. It was constructed by Sinagua people who occupied it from the 8th till 15th century and did not actually use it as defensive fortification. This ancient apartment building merely used natural cliffs and adobe walls to keep people inside cool and shaded from the sun rays. Additionally wild animals couldn't get to the individual members of the tribe. The structure of Montezuma Castle is a five story complex that contains 20 rooms. People who lived here could climb their cliff homes via ladders that could be removed if enemies approached the settlement. This is not the only dwelling in this national park. Remains of several cliff dwellings are spread out through out the area surrounding Montezuma Castle. Sinagua tribe left the site for unknown reasons. Some blamed it on changing climate that made agriculture impossible. Other blame it on newly arrived Yavapai tribes that came here.




Montezuma Castle National Monument itself encloses 860 acres near the geographic center of Arizona and the intersection of the Colorado Plateau and Basin and Range physiographic provinces.

The dwellings and the surrounding area were declared a U.S. National Monument on December 8, 1906 as a result of the American Antiquities Act, signed earlier that year. It is one of the four original sites designated National Monuments by President Theodore Roosevelt. Montezuma Castle National Monument was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.

It is an easy site to visit, just a short distance off Interstate 17, at exit 289. There is a 1⁄3 mile (0.54 km) paved trail starting at the visitor center that follows the base of the cliff containing the ruins. Access to the interior of the ruins of Montezuma Castle National Monument has not been allowed since 1951 due to concerns about visitor safety and damage to the dwelling. About 400,000 tourists visit the site each year. The park is open from 8am to 5pm every day of the year, except for Christmas Day.

The visitor center includes a museum about the Sinagua culture and the tools they used to build the dwellings. The museum houses many artifacts, such as stone tools, metates used for grinding corn, bone needles, and ornaments of shell and gemstone, which prove that the Sinagua were fine artisans as well as prolific traders. There is also a Park Store operated by Western National Parks Association.





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