Montezuma Castle seems to be one of those attractions that no matter when you go, there will be a line. I am here to tell you it is worth that wait. Pictures really do this monument no justice. Yes, there are some great photos out there, but there is nothing like being up close and personal. You really get the magnitude of this “Castle” when you are right there. It is truly amazing the depth of this monument and the work, planning and dedication that must have went in to making such a jaw dropping structure.
To just imagine living in the time that these people built this is fascinating in itself but really seeing what they were able to build and accomplish with such little is mind blowing. For most of us the tools we need, knowledge we have and processes have already been created or are readily available by a simple Google Search or on YouTube. These people had to figure out how to do what they did by what they could find and make work. The thought of that sounds like a lot of work in itself, but when you actually see what they were able to create and accomplish you can’t help but be in envy of the creativity and dedication these people must have had. It’s truly awe inspiring.
A little history in to Montezuma Castle is that it shouldn’t be considered a castle at all. In fact, it shouldn’t even be called Montezuma. This area was actually inhabited and built by the Sinagua farmers between 1100 and 1425 AD. This area was named after an Aztec Emperor with the belief that he had been associated with the construction when in fact the area itself had been abandoned at least 40 years before Montezuma was even born. How’s that for inaccurate? . Also, castle was a stretch for the name as it was more like a high rise apartment complex. This “castle” inhabited many families, not just one.
This amazing structure is actually about 90 feet up a sheer limestone cliff. The reasoning behind this is thought to avoid natural disasters. During bad weather or monsoon season the area tends to flood and the water of the Beaver creek to embark over it’s banks. Also, being so high up offered a level of protection that they couldn’t get on the ground. With the only way to access their homes being ladders they were at an advantage against other tribes attacking. Quite simply, they would just flip the ladder backwards and bye bye intruders. I hope they had spare ones in their homes because I’m not quite sure how they would have gotten back down from their dwellings.
- It is thought that the area was actually inhabited as early 700 AD but was evacuated due to the eruption of Sunset Crater Volcano nearly 60 miles north of the area. (click here to learn about Sunset Crater Volcano)
- Heavy looting in the 19th and 20th centuries have left very few Sinagua artifacts remaining and in tact
- The monument encloses 860 acres near the center of Arizona.
- It was declared a National Monument by Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 and remains one of the 4 designated monuments by him
- The main structure is comprised of 20 rooms and 5 stories high