Montezuma Castle in central Arizona was built by the Sinagua Indians between the early 1100s and approximately 1425. Originally part of a larger settlement, Montezuma Castle was more of an apartment block than an actual fortress, housing around 50 people who would have reached their homes with the use of ladders. Until the structure began to show signs of rapid decay in 1951, modern visitors to the site also used ladders to access the structure.
Nowadays, the roughly 350,000 annual visitors to Montezuma Castle can only view it from a distance. Montezuma Castle was declared a National Monument in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt. This conferred upon it the same status as the Statue of Liberty. Since that time, the ruins have been protected from further destruction and looting, the latter of which was responsible for the loss of many original artifacts.
Montezuma Castle comprises five levels and 20 rooms, built entirely within a recess in the limestone cliffs overlooking the flood plain of Beaver Creek. Its name, after the Aztec king Montezuma, is likely to have been mistakenly applied by early settlers who believed the structure to be the work of the architecturally sophisticated Aztecs. In fact, Montezuma Castle represents the late stages of Sinagua life in the Verde Valley, according to the Sedona Verde Valley Tourism Council.