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“An interesting experience”

Villa Zorayda Museum
Ranked #39 of 189 things to do in St. Augustine
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: <1 hour
Owner description: Take a step back in time as you enter this Grand Gilded Age home, built by Franklin W. Smith in 1883. Franklin Smith, an eclectic world traveler, was originally from Boston, and he built the Villa Zorayda as his winter home in St. Augustine, FL. Smith was the innovator of poured concrete and crushed coquina construction that is seen throughout St. Augustine today. On the "National Register of Historic Places", the Villa Zorayda is a 1/10th scale reproduction of a portion of the Moorish Castle, the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. View the elegant traceries on the walls made of alabaster and plaster which were made in Spain using the same molds that the Moors used for the walls of the Alhambra Palace! In addition to the magnificent architecture of the building is the original art and antique collection: hand pierced brass lamps, hand carved and exquisite inlaid furniture, an Egyptian rug over 2400 years old, and much more! You will also see beautiful hand painted Spanish & Egyptian tiles, Moorish horseshoe arches, and the beautiful architectural details from the Alhambra Palace. Learn the 133 year history of the Villa Zorayda as you take a state-of-the-art audio guided tour, which run continuously throughout the day. The audio guided tour is available in English, Spanish and French. Free parking while visiting the Museum.
Reviewed October 19, 2012

My husband and I visited this interesting museum in October, the offseason, so it was not crowded at all--maybe 3 other people in there. Since the place is not as large as one would think, less crowds make for easier navigation during the tour.

Because we are St Johns County residents, we got 50% off the regular-priced admission, so we each paid $5.00. Each visitor is given a hand-held device that you place up to your ear (like you would with a cell phone) to visit tour rooms and areas of the museum. There are 20 "stops." It sounds like a lot, but will take you no more than an hour to complete get through it, and a couple of the stopping points could have been combined (like the whipping sticks). The artifacts and architecture are very fascinating, but there is so many that it almost feels cluttered inside. This actually affects what the audio guide is referencing because when you're in a small space with hundreds of artifacts, they are sometimes hard to find until it is too late. In the future, I think the person doing the audio guide should be a little more specific in pointing things out and pausing to allow visitors to find them.

Overall, we were pleased with the visit, as it was unique. Some reviewers were bothered by the hand-held sets, but we were find with it, though in other museums I've visited, they use headsets, which is is admittedly a nicer touch. I would recommend seeing this place if you're a resident or just visiting St. Augustine. Very cool.

Thank vlmiller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviews (326)
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284 - 288 of 326 reviews

Reviewed October 4, 2012

The architecture of this home is very interesting. It is advertised as a castle, which is what prompted our visit. It may have looked like a castle in 1883 when it was originally

That said the interior was fantastic. It is filled with antiques and artifacts. Each person is given a hand held device, which is used to gain information and the history of each item inside this home. There are things from all over the world, but mostly from the mysterious Middle East. Do not miss the 2700-year-old rug.

Thank blackcat06
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 27, 2012

A smaller version of the Alhambra in Spain. Crammed with architectural details and artifacts. An interesting place

Thank Carol T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 26, 2012

I have been going to St Augustine for years, but this was this first time I have been to the Villa Zorayda, It has a self-guided audio tour and easy access to really look at the rare art work. tile work and unique style copied from the original Alhambra in spain. Built as a summer home for Saint Augustine builder Will Smith it houses the Cat Rug and it celebrates 100 years next year. It is inexpensive $10 and a St Augustine MUST SEE!

Thank Janni57
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 10, 2012

Worth the visit. A smaller version of the Alhambra loaded with architectural details and decorative arts that makes this a well preserved spot to visit.

Thank TravelBoomerang
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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