Montezuma Castle is located near Camp Verde. It is not a castle and Montezuma was never there. Montezuma Castle is a five level stone and mortar cliff dwelling with twenty rooms. Nearby you can see some of the remaining ruins from an additional six-story 45-room dwelling which was built at the base of the cliff.
Montezuma Castle was built by the Sinagua people around
1200 A.D., making it a pre-Columbian high rise apartment complex. A natural overhang shaded the rooms and sheltered them from rain. Since you needed ladders to get to the dwellings, they had an extra level of safety from animals and hostile people.
The Sinagua were farmers. The prehistoric Hohokam Indians had been there hundreds of years before the Sinagua and had built irrigation systems for farming. This proved valuable to the Sinaquas. There was an abundant water supply provided by the creeks for irrigation and Montezuma Castle overlooked their fields of corn, beans, squash and cotton
The Sinagua left Montezuma Castle and the area around 1400 A.D. The reasons for their departure are unknown. Some historians think the arrival of The Yavapai people might be the reason.
Taking I-17 north several miles will take to you Montezuma Well. The Montezuma Well is a limestone sink hole created by the collapse of a large underground cavern. The well is continuously fed by springs, which both the Sinaquas and Hohokams used to irrigate crops.
The constant supply of water was the life-blood of the people who made their home in the area. Over 1.5 million gallons of water at 74 degrees F. flows into the well every day, a rate that has not fluctuated measurably even through draughts. Ancient cliff dwellings can be seen perched along the rim. There are also large pueblo ruins and an ancient pit house. Yavapai people believe they emerged into this world through the well, and as such, it is a very sacred place to them.
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