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.
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.
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.