Last Updated on April 17, 2016
Montezuma Castle is one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America. Arizona is one of the last places we expected to see a “castle”. This 20 room “high-rise apartment” was built over 700 years ago and is nestled into a towering limestone cliff. The legacy of the Sinagua people continues to inspire the imaginations generations of people.
The abundant alcoves and rock shelters found in cliffs throughout the Verde Valle served as homes, storage units and spiritual sites.
Wind and water have sculpted countless alcoves, holes and crannies in the soft layers of limestone. People built their homes in large alcoves and used the smaller areas for storage and temporary shelter. Some of the holes were also enlarged for living areas. Most of the cavates are similar to one another and are around 10 feet into the cliff.
It is incredible to think that around the year 1400 is when people began leaving their homes and today, over five hundred years later, the walls are still largely intact. The majority of what is seen today by visitors is still original. It is absolutely mind-blowing to consider how they, without the modern technology and machinery of today, were able to build these impressive dwellings.
The castle is one of the best preserved sites from the period, likely due to its inaccessibility. A variety of preservation techniques have been carried out,but wherever possible archeologists attempt to match today’s treatments with the origional materials and building details. Years ago, visitors were able to climb and view the cavates, but for safety reasons this is no longer available to the public.
What caused these people to leave and abandon this incredible living area? Diesease, conflict, unpredictable weather pattern are a few possibilities.
What are some national monuments that have really sparked your interest?