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.

Reserve 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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Biggeer
Chicago, Illinois
"Not impressed"
TripAdvisor user rating 2 out of 5
Reviewed August 10, 2018 NEW
Outside of building is beautiful but I was surprised how tiny it was. After entering I was told there was no photography of any kind allowed. Either this is a new policy or I was lied to as there are tons of photos on here from guests. Someone mentioned the poor painting. I will say it does look freehand done. Not crisp lines. If you've been to any palace or the ones in Spain this will come as a super cheap touristy knock off. The furniture is similar to what is found at the lightner museum down the street or you're local pier one. I did like the story of the sacred cat rug. But the person selling the rug also was the one with the story. It is a good story but obviously complete hogwash. There's a reason the family have never had it authenticated properly. Personally I think it's a do once and never go back sort of thing. If you are low on funds I would skip and just go to the Lightner museum.
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M0ther_of_5
Atlanta, GA
"Real potential with a few gems"
TripAdvisor user rating 3 out of 5
Reviewed July 24, 2018 NEW
Let’s start with the positive- the house is being maintained and the audio tour is informative. Unusual and interesting art pieces and architectural design fill the building. We approached when the colorful exterior trim was being painted white. Hopefully that is just a primer for a suitable and quality color paint job. But based on the interior paint job, it is unlikely. The interior was painted in poor quality paint, uneven edging and odd color choices that did not seem historically accurate or aesthetically chosen. For example, anything that is supposed to be gilded looks like Krylon spray on metallic paint chosen at a big box do it yourself store. This is an architectural landmark and deserves to be treated well. A high quality and proper paint job is necessary.
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Brian C
Winchester, Kentucky
"Step back in time"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed July 15, 2018
I decided to tour the museum to get out of the heat of the day. I'm so very glad I did. The museum offers a self guided audio tour that tells the history of the rooms and items through out the museum. It was like stepping back in time, so very interesting to see how people lived back in the day.
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kevinbF8237NX
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
"Interesting"
TripAdvisor user rating 4 out of 5
Reviewed July 12, 2018
We have been to St Augustine a lot of times and each time we try a couple of new tours or sights. We have seen the villa zorayda a few times and they talked about it on the the ghost tour we did a few years back. So we took the plunge and did the tour. For a small building there was a lot of info and things to see. It is an audio guided tour which not everyone will like but we found to be useful and informative. The kids also enjoyed the tour. I'm not sure this is the kind of tour you need to see more than once but I'm glad we saw it this time. I would recommend anyone who is interested in the history of St Augustine or how many of the buildings in the US and around Florida were built to last go see the landmark.
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Cosmo67
Gainesville, Florida, United States
"Loved the audio tour"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed July 07, 2018
WOW. Been to St. Augustine so many times and always just walked right passed this gem. Take an hour and do the audio tour. Well worth it. Definitely on the top 5 list for St. Augustine.
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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.