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“Interesting look into a collector's lifestyle”

Villa Zorayda Museum
Ranked #36 of 187 things to do in St. Augustine
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
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.
Yorktown, VA
Level 6 Contributor
391 reviews
117 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 148 helpful votes
“Interesting look into a collector's lifestyle”
Reviewed February 21, 2013

This museum has a beautiful, brightly painted exterior. Unfortunately, no photos allowed indoors. We were given audio devices to tour the rooms at our own pace. It was chock-a-block with Islamic and other Eastern art and collectibles; very cluttered and eclectic, but that was what wealthy 19th-century collectors liked. The most interesting item there is the 2300 year old Egyptian "cat rug".

Visited February 2013
Helpful?
Thank CBW47
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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323 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Madison, Virginia
Level 4 Contributor
24 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“The Accidental Museum”
Reviewed January 30, 2013

We found the Villa Zorayda Museum because we were looking for parking. We were on King Street and spotted the $5 all-day parking sign and pulled in. (Note, the parking rate changes - the next day it was $8). After we paid our fee to Al, we noticed the exotic building and decided to visit the museum. We told Marcia at the entrance we paid for parking and she discounted our tickets by $5.

We loved this museum. It's a 1/10 scale replica of a section of Alhambra in Granada Spain. My husband and I visited Alhambra in 1998 and were intrigued enough to step inside. It has an unusual collection of artifacts: a unique gaming table, a tent warmer, a harem swing, and Egyptian cat rug are mixed with an art nouveau statue and lamp. If Ripley's is your favorite attraction in St. Aug, this is probably not the place for you. In art museums I usually skip the audio tour but here it's a must.

The only disappointment was that no photography is allowed and there isn't a gift shop (i.e. no postcards or books - although I understand a book is underway.)

This isn't a museum for small children - some displays are roped off but there's nothing to stop them from reaching out an grabbing any number of items. Teens may be bored with the audio tour.

Their website has a coupon - buy 1 admission get one 1/2 price. Combined with free parking, it's a good deal.

Visited January 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank Lynn D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Huntsville, Alabama
Level 4 Contributor
33 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Beautiful Museum”
Reviewed January 9, 2013

This place has so much history, fabulous art pieces and is well done! The admission was reasonable and allowed us to leave our car there for the day while we wandered around the city.

Visited January 2013
Helpful?
Thank J H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sausalito California
Level 4 Contributor
19 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“Candle Light Tours”
Reviewed January 8, 2013

We did a candle light tour during Christmas week and it was way better than we expected. The villa is marvelous and the tour guides are related to the family. So much to see and it has been beautifully restored. It's a must see when you come to town.

Visited December 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank gypsy89
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vero Beach, Florida
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Not worth the money”
Reviewed January 8, 2013

As we entered, we are told there would be no photos allowed, put phones away. Then we were followed around, almost like we would disobey the "order". As if we would. The only room worth looking at was the sphinx/Egyptian room. The rest was just a bunch of old hadji stuff crammed together in a house.

Visited January 2013
Helpful?
3 Thank vicki s
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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