Villa Zorayda Museum in St. Augustine, FL

83 King StreetSt. Augustine, FL 32084
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Overview

Located just across from Flagler College and a few blocks from The Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, the Villa Zorayda Museum lets guests get an up-close view of the architectural work of art created in 1883 by Franklin Smith. The museum offers state-of-the-art self-guided audio tours that are available throughout the day, as well as special behind-the-scenes tours on select Tuesdays.

Description

from Villa Zorayda Museum
After several years of historical renovation, the Villa Zorayda with its collection of unique antiquities is a must see on your visit to our nations oldest city!

Closed for several years the Villa Zorayda Museum has undergone an extensive renovation and is once again open to the public as a museum. On the National Register of Historic Places it was built in 1883 as the winter residence of Franklin Smith utilizing his method of construction of poured concrete and crushed coquina shell. It is built 1/10th the scale of a section of the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. This building set a precedence for St. Augustine and began the Moorish Spanish revival of architecture that is seen throughout the city today. In 1904 it became the Zorayda Club.

On display for the first time ever is the custom made bone china made exclusively for the Zorayda Club. In 1913 it was purchased by Abraham S. Mussallem, an authority on Oriental rugs, fine arts and Egyptian artifacts. In 1922 it became one of the most fashionable places for casino gambling. In the mid 1930's it was opened as a museum featuring the priceless antique collections of both Franklin Smith and A.S. Mussallem which are still on display today. The 45-60 minute tour gives an in depth look at the historical significance of the building to the City of St. Augustine, the magnificent architecture as well as descriptions of the many exquisite pieces you will see. On display is the "Sacred Cat Rug" over 2400 years old and made from the hairs of ancient cats that roamed the Nile River. Taken from a pyramid in Egypt it is said to possess a curse for anyone that walks on it!

VILLA ZORAYDA "BEHIND THE SCENES'/AUDIO GUIDED TOUR AVAILABLE
Visitors will be taken to rarely seen areas of the museum where we will give an explanation of what the area was used for in the past and what future plans may be coming. Highlight of the tour is the never seen before "Tower of the Princesses" located on the third floor which was a bedroom in the original house and where time has virtually stood still. *Stairs are steep and narrow and visitors must be in good physical condition to make the climb. Approximate time will be about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

St. Augustine Customer Reviews

Teekeela Aranda
Hahira, GA
2 Reviews
Verified Traveler
"Great museum"
April 2018
Loved all the beautiful detail. The history was interesting, with a little bit of a ghost story.
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TripAdvisor Reviews
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grmomof2
Glen Ridge, New Jersey
"Unusual experience"
TripAdvisor user rating 3 out of 5
Reviewed June 12, 2019 NEW
This museum was built as a winter home using the Alhambra as the basis for the design. While colorful and filled with interesting items, it felt like too much was screaming for attention to really appreciate any of it. It was also unclear what the original owners were going for.
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Lilyremake
"Very cool Gilded Age collection"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed May 31, 2019 NEW
This house, built as a scale model of the Alhambra in Grenada, Spain and decorated in a "Moorish" style, was a private home, a fancy gambling club and finally a museum to hold the collections of its two previous owners. These collections are extensive. There is a range of paintings and sculpture, mainly from the 18th and 19th century. There is furniture from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries in a range of styles, including some really beautiful pieces from early 19th century Damascus, and many 19th century Chinoisierie pieces. The collections are heavy on "orientalist" pieces favored by Gilded Age collectors, so much of the decorative pieces are from the Middle East, China and Indonesia. Some of the pieces here are the equal to what you will see in a world-class museum like the V&A in London but here, you are in a much more intimate setting, separated from the pieces by only a velvet rope and a foot or so of space, unlike in a large museum. For fans of the decorative arts, this place is a must-see.The building itself is also interesting, even for those without a background in architecture; the tracery on the first floor is a replica of that in the Alhambra, while the floor and wall tiles are from a 14th century mosque. It is beautiful, if highly colorful and extravagant. You will learn about both the art and architecture of the home through the really excellent audio tour, included in admission. I also appreciate that this is not an enormous collection like the next-door--and also very good--Lightner Museum. You can easily see and appreciate the house in around an hour to an hour and a half.
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Nubinskis
Chuburna Puerto/Carrollton Virginia
"Fascinating history and architecture"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed May 24, 2019 NEW
This is a great tour for adults. Each visitor receives a phone for a self paced audio tour. One member of our group is Mexican and she was thrilled to have the tour in Spanish on her phone! Each room is lavishly decorated and there is so much to look at and hear about in every nook and cranny! The story of the cat tapestry is scary and interesting. This is one of the best house tours I’ve ever been on and I recommend it to visitors to St. Augustine! And it is 1/10th the size replica of the Alhambra in Spain!
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Cameo T
"Museum"
TripAdvisor user rating 3 out of 5
Reviewed May 15, 2019
The museum was just ok. I personally don't like museums but hubby thought it was interesting. It had old and unusual items.
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maraffi
south carolina
"Worth Seeing"
TripAdvisor user rating 4 out of 5
Reviewed May 08, 2019
This was a very different home, it had so much to see that you would never see in another home, glad we went.
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Villa Zorayda Museum is located at 83 King StreetSt. Augustine, FL 32084
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Frequently Asked Questions about Villa Zorayda Museum

Do you offer audio tours?
Yes, self guided audio tours are available in English, Spanish and French. Prices for the audio tours are $10.

Is there parking?
Yes, located in St. Augustine’s Historic District visitors receive FREE PARKING while visiting the museum (one vehicle maximum).

When is the last admission time?
From Monday through Saturday, the last admission time is 4:30pm; the museum closes at 5pm. On Sunday, the museum closes at 4pm.