It's not a castle and Montezuma was never here.

Nestled into a limestone recess high above the flood plain of Beaver Creek in the Verde Valley stands one of the best-preserved cliff ruins in North America. The five-story, 20-room cliff dwelling served as a "high-rise apartment building" for prehistoric Sinagua Indians over 600 years ago. Early settlers to the area assumed that the imposing structure was associated with the Aztec emperor Montezuma, but the castle was abandoned almost a century before Montezuma was born.

With heightened concern over vandalism of fragile southwestern prehistoric sites, Montezuma Castle became a major factor in the nation's historic preservation movement with its proclamation as a national monument. The Castle was described in December 1906 establishing proclamation as "of the greatest ethnological and scientific interest."