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“Fun, fun, fun -- and interesting historical & trivia stuff about one of St. Augustine's Former Citizenry”

Villa Zorayda Museum
Ranked #37 of 183 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.
Saint Augustine, Florida, United States
Level Contributor
74 reviews
26 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Fun, fun, fun -- and interesting historical & trivia stuff about one of St. Augustine's Former Citizenry”
Reviewed April 8, 2013

Joined a group of friends for tour yesterday, April 7 and had a great time.

One gets a 50% discount with St Johns County ID -- a clear, informative audio tour which can be taken at one's own pace.

Some really great antique pieces include a 2,000 year old 'sacred cat rug" unearthed from King Tut's tomb site in Egypt. Gorgeous Middle Eastern and Asian furnishings, leaning towards Middle Eastern flavor -- one of my favs were the elephant and camel designed teapots! :) What can I say? I'm a tea drinker!

The sheer number of handcrafted, fine artifacts, furnishings, and vintage photos is staggering. Equally impressive is the condition in which everything is so lovingly cared for as well!

Visited April 2013
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Thank Lisa A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Richmond, Virginia
Level Contributor
264 reviews
48 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 52 helpful votes
“Worth a visit but not a trip!”
Reviewed March 13, 2013 via mobile

If you are already in St Augustine you really should drop by. This is an interesting and very complete collection of an avid collectors lifetime accumulation. A one tenth scale of the Alhambra in Spain, the small space is crammed full of an amazing array of Mediterranean collectibles. I do agree with the comments about less than enthusiastic staff and the long audio guides. But you can shut them off anytime you want or listen to the entire tape if you are interested. Certainly worth the modest admission!

Helpful?
1 Thank William L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tampa, Florida
Level Contributor
87 reviews
28 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 114 helpful votes
“Different, and worth a visit”
Reviewed March 11, 2013

We enjoyed the Villa Zorayda and recommend it to those who appreciate furniture and decor.

You go through the house at your own pace and can backtrack if you want to. The audio tour is free with admission, and even if you're not keen on audio tours you should do this one because there's really no signage about the items in the house, so it's your only source of info (there might be docent tours, but we weren't offered one and didn't run into any docents or staff of any sort during our visit, except for the nice fellow up front).

Plan on at least an hour if you do the whole audio tour and look at everything.

Know that you will mostly be seeing various furnishings (much or all of it from overseas and rather exotic-looking) and general decor, and you will learn about the house itself. One standout display piece is the Sacred Cat rug. It's not like a sterile museum, but rather an awesomely and fully furnished house that you get to meander through. The whole place is unusual with its definite exotic flair.

The only two negatives are the lack of signage and the fact that photography isn't allowed.

Tips: Get the "buy one get one half off" coupon from their web site. Also check the Admissions page of the site for various other discounts. With the half off we paid $15 for two adults, and it was definitely worth the price. Also, you get free all-day parking (in their lot) with admission, so it's really a good deal and you can kiss your parking woes goodbye for the day!

Visited October 2012
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2 Thank mlasp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
florida
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 attraction reviews
“Anitiques”
Reviewed March 8, 2013

If you like seeing hand made, detailed items this is the place for you. I was amazed at the handcrafted items. You could go through this place in an hour but if you take the time to admire the artistry of the works you could spend 2 or 3 hours. I also recommend the audio tour. It gives you lots of information about what you are looking at.

Helpful?
Thank daedalus77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Upstate New York
Level Contributor
55 reviews
39 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“Wonderful house museum plus all-day parking”
Reviewed February 25, 2013

This villa was created by a wealthy Bostonian, Franklin Smith, in the late 19th century as St. Augustine was becoming a vacation spot for the wealthy. Smith invented the tabby-like concrete method that was used in many Flagler buildings as well. The villa is a lovely home built to echo the Alhambra in Spain. It has a courtyard floor plan, beautiful tile and wood work, and is full of wonderful Eastern and Islamic art. You can tour at your own pace with an electronic listening device and questions are welcomed. There are signs that give a background on many of the pieces and give insight into life of the wealthy in St. Augustine. Artwork is identified and well-researched. After the Smiths, the Villa evolved as a night club and restaurant and then to a home where middle-eastern artwork and rugs were sold. Well worth the time if you have interest in history and art. Bonus is that the admission to the Villa entitles you to all-day parking. Can't beat it. Don't miss the formal tour of the Flagler College across the street and the Lightner Museum next door.

Visited February 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank UpstateNewYorkJoey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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