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.

Tripster 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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KMW-FL
Port Saint Lucie, Florida
"Beautiful Furnishings and A Cat Hair Rug"
TripAdvisor user rating 4 out of 5
Reviewed December 07, 2019 NEW
While most of what we saw in the furnishings are not our cup of tea, they are truly beautiful in their time. Some dating as far back as the 1600's. Some priceless antiques, collections and other oddities to see in each room. The harem room was very ornate and interesting. The story of the Cat Hair Rug was unique and the Christmas tree and all the decorations were stunning to see. The audio tour was just the right pace for us and we were the only ones for most of the tour which made it quite nice. The docent was very friendly and answered our questions to the best of her knowledge. A winter home for the owner Franklin Smith, but not one I would feel comfortable in, but his wife must have loved it. .
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568kristineb
Orlando, Florida
"Don’t miss the cat hair rug!"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed November 28, 2019 NEW
Honestly...we visited this museum because we heard from a trolley guide that the museum contains a cursed cat hair rug (yes, an Egyptian rug made out of cat hair). We found the rug and the history is fascinating, but there’s sooo much more to this museum. To some people it may look like an episode of hoarders, but it’s far from that. The pieces in the museum are part of the collections of the two men who owned the building when it was still a house (and a nightclub, hotel, etc.). The audio tour is included with admission and really helps to explain all the things you’re seeing. A really nice touch was the array of Christmas decorations throughout the house. My mom particularly liked a set of Christmas balls in their original box that reminded her of the ornaments from her childhood.
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Norbert K
"Too much junk"
TripAdvisor user rating 2 out of 5
Reviewed November 22, 2019 NEW
A lot of collectables stuffed into a small space, making a hodge podge to appreciate. Not worth the admission.
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mountain22
Mount Dora, Florida
"2019-29 “19th Century Architectural Museum”"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed November 04, 2019
Enjoy state-of-the-art audio guided tour, available in; English, Spanish and French. Located in the heart of St Augustine. Originally built as a private home in 1883, Villa Zorayda is a one-tenth scale reproduction of the Alhambra Palace in Grenada, Spain. Franklin Smith was the innovator of the poured concrete and coquina construction seen throughout the city today. The museum houses 98% original collection.
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scott r
Silver Spring, Maryland
"When money and eccentricity meet...."
TripAdvisor user rating 4 out of 5
Reviewed October 08, 2019
Solid attraction with good (and sometimes unintentionally amusing: "more sticks" being the sole explanation for one station stop) audio tour. Move at your own pace, stop to examine the signage in each room - don't be afraid of the pause button! Interesting assemblage, some bric-a-brac, some stuff singularly uniqe. Not many people when I toured; it would be frustating if crowded. Desk person could barely contain her boredom, or was it annoyance, with her job. Biggest disappointment - No pictures: aren't we done with this yet?
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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.