Built high into a cliff face, Montezuma Castle sheltered the Sinagua Indians about eight centuries ago. When explorers saw this five-story dwelling perched in a cliff above the Verde Valley in 1864, they were impressed. Believing that such a "castle" must have been built by the advanced Aztecs, they named it for the Aztec ruler Montezuma. In fact, it was the Sinagua Indians of the 12th century that built the 20 room dwelling. They used muscle power and ladders alone to move the materials -- limestone blocks, mortar, and beams made from sycamore trees -- up the cliff. Choosing a protective overhang 100 feet above Beaver Creek, they created a defensive stronghold for the 50 people who lived there.

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Montezuma CastleMontezuma Castle.

Montezuma CastleGrisel and Jeff at Montezuma Castle.

Montezuma CastleMontezuma Castle.

Montezuma Castle reconstructionA model of what Montezuma Castle may have looked liked when the Sinagua Indians lived there during the 12th century. Castle A reconstructionA reconstruction of Castle A, the home of Montezuma Castle's neighbors. Castle A & Montezuma CastleA short distance west of Montezuma Castle (right) is Castle A (left), once an imposing six-story apartment with about 45 rooms, now a badly deteriorated ruin.
Castle ALike neighboring Montezuma Castle, Castle A was occupied by Sinagua farmers between 1200 and 1450 CE. However, with its 45 rooms and an estimated occupancy of 100, it was over twice as large. It was named Castle A by the archeologists who excavated it in the 1930s. Castle ACastle A is not as well preserved as Montezuma Castle, because in the late 1400s a fire destroyed almost all of the interior features. All that remain today are parts of a few collapsed walls and a partially reconstructed foundation.

Beaver CreekBeaver Creek provided a reliable source of water for the Sinaguans who settled here.

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