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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Dennis J
Boston, Massachusetts
"Very unique"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed January 10, 2019 NEW
Small private residence based on the Alhambra in Spain. House has had only two owners over 105 years so many artifacts are original to the house. Built by a Boston architect in the late 1800's. Very interesting. Not something you would normally see. Free audio tour is helpful.
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Alverda N
"receptionist not accommodating"
TripAdvisor user rating 3 out of 5
Reviewed January 07, 2019 NEW
I paid $38.00 for my son and grandaughters to visit museum. I also told her I had toured last year and as a senior citizen I could not do the tour again but I politely asked her if i could use the restroom and was told NO....She was also rude when my grandaughter asked directions to the restroom later. She was scrolling around on her cellphone and didnt want to help visitors. I will not take any other visitors there even though it is a nice museum.
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mv376
sarasota
"smaller than i thought"
TripAdvisor user rating 3 out of 5
Reviewed January 04, 2019 NEW
the most memorable thing was the emphasis on cats, but the past of the building is a little odd for a museum, unless it were for a different kind of museum. the best thing was driving around the area afterwards.
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Lorisails
Conshohocken, Pennsylvania
"Holiday Candlelight tour"
TripAdvisor user rating 3 out of 5
Reviewed January 01, 2019 NEW
My Mom and signed up for this candlelight tour while we were in St Augustine before Christmas. It was a block away from our hotel, so it was really convenient. It turns that the original owner of the home was also one of the architects of our hotel. (Casa Monica) I really enjoyed hearing how the home changed throughout the years with the 2 different owners. The tour was a little boring for me and I don't think I would add it to anyone's must do list in St Augustine.
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TravelerCentralFLA
Clermont, Florida
"Small and Fascinating Museum"
TripAdvisor user rating 5 out of 5
Reviewed December 23, 2018 NEW
Our family recently visited Villa Zorayda on our recent trip to St. Augustine. I had visited myself as a child about 40 years ago. I had a few vague memories of the place, but I did remember it was interesting. The entry to the museum is pretty reasonably priced and includes an audio tour. The audio tour was informative and helpful. In some rooms the audio tour can be hard to follow at times because there are so many artifacts in some of the rooms. One of the big disappoints is that they do not allow photography of any kind in the museum. It is a fascinating place and I would love to have had the chance to take some photos, but I also understand they have to protect their collection and flash photography can be harmful to many pieces. The structure itself is fascinating and is a scaled-down replica of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. It copies the Moorish elements of the Alhambra and is very distinctive. This building began the Spanish Revival architectural building spree in the Guilded Era in St. Augustine. Henry Flagler liked this building and even offered to buy it at one point. The building served first as a residence and it has also served as a private club, a speakeasy, a gambling casino, and a museum. The museum is full of many kinds of artifacts. Some of the items are of European origin, but many are from the Middle East or North Africa. The pierced brass Damascus lamps were beautiful. The traceries around the main floor are copies of the ones found in the Alhambra in Spain. The most interesting piece in the museum, in my opinion, is the Sacred Cat Rug made from cat-hair about 2,400 years ago. It is accompanied by a mummified human foot that was evidently broken off by grave robbers in Egypt. The legend is that anyone who walks on the rug will be cursed. There is no need to worry since it is displayed on the wall in a glass case. The museum is very interesting both for its artifacts and it links to the history of St. Augustine. I would recommend a visit, but be aware that photography is not allowed.
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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.