What is the Story Behind the Montezuma Castle?

The Montezuma Castle in Verde Valley, Arizona is an ancient structure situated within a limestone mountain. It stood five stories high and had about 20 rooms.

The castle was believed to be the home of the Aztec emperor Montezuma. Scholars, however, proved that the castle was just named by early caucasian settlers by mistake. The Sinagua Indians were responsible for erecting this marvelous structure.

Who were the Sinagua Indians?

The name Sinagua means without water in Spanish. The origins of Sinagua Indians are quite unclear. But they were known to be peaceful Native Americans during the pre-Colombian era. They were mostly hunters, gatherers, craftsmen, traders, and farmers. (Source: History)

They mainly grew corn, squash and beans in their fields and were very simple people. They were also master weavers and quite gifted in crafting. Artifacts that were gathered revealed quite intricate designs made up of high quality cotton that they probably grew themselves. (Source: History)

Many of the items found in the Montezuma Castle isn’t commonly found in the area. Scholars believe that the Sinagua Indians were master traders who bartered items from far away places. Montezuma Castle may have been the commercial center, where trades of goods were done. (Source: History)

What Happened to the Sinagua Indians?

No one really knows what happened to the Sinagua Indians. Like, why they left Montezuma Castle? What we do know is by 1425 A.D. they have left the area. (Source: History)

Some scientists believe that they vacated the area due to overpopulation and depleting resources. Others believed that their water may have had high arsenic content. (Source: History)

Chances are, the tribe split and settled elsewhere. Then other Native Americans and early white settlers started living in the castle. (Source: History)

How was the Massive Castle Built?

The Montezuma Castle was built sometime between 1100 AD and 1350 AD. The structure is erected a third of the way of a 150 foot limestone cliff right above Beaver Creek . (Source: History)

The walls of the castle were made out of limestone and mud. The roof was framed with large beams which were then covered by smaller beams. The framework was then sealed with thatch and mud. The beams itself were harvested from sycamore, alder or ash trees. They were gathered using stone axes. (Source: History)

The walls were two feet thick at the bottom and narrowed down to one foot as it reached the top. The rooms had high ceilings with low and small doors. This design helped preserve the heat inside the dwelling. (Source: History)

The Preservation of Montezuma Castle

In the past few decades, the castle has been restored and maintained. The preservation of the castle was not an easy feat. In 1933, restoration efforts started. This was to repair the damages looters have caused. (Source: History)

To keep everything authentic, preservationists conduct the renovations and construction using local materials and performed repairs by hand. (Source: History)

The National Park Service monitor and maintains the centuries-old castle. They take all the necessary measure to preserve this national treasure that is visited by over 350,000 tourists every year. (Source: History)

7 thoughts on “What is the Story Behind the Montezuma Castle?”

  1. beanomly

    Funny, I was just there on Tuesday. It’s a pretty cool thing to see, but what you see here is pretty much it.

  2. JezzartheOzzy

    Kinda like how Columbus thought he had sailed to India, and so called the Native Americans he found, Indians and it just kind of stuck…

  3. FaeRosie

    I’ve been there. Nice place. Was disappointed that we couldn’t go up into the dwellings, but I understand why.

  4. DrWWIIHistorian

    I actually frequented this when I was a kid as it was close to my mom’s house and had a need moving diorama you could watch. One time a boulder fell and freaked everyone out (I was super skittish kid so I thought the world was ending), we never went back after that. But I still have fond memories.

  5. viderfenrisbane

    > Stone axes were used to harvest the trees (usually sycamore, alder or ash) used to make the larger beams. The axes could reportedly drop an average-sized tree in 15 minutes.

    So apparently we were getting tree felling reports from the natives back in 1100 AD?

  6. InfamousBanana4391

    Wonder did they ever ask the locals what they called it…

  7. kylemattheww

    Sounds about right. The term “Indian” for Native American is still fairly prevalent.

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