Explore the gilded age in history, an era of rapid economic growth in America. The Villa Zorayda is covered in Moorish style architecture. From the ceiling to the floor the architecture is the articulated western part of Arab world, and North Africa. The incredible setting puts you in a different time and place. Gorgeous artefacts reveal history and you will be told of tales waiting to be uncovered for generations.
Closed for eight years the Villa Zorayda Museum had an extensive renovation before it was opened to the public. Franklin Smith utilized his method of construction of poured concrete and crushed coquina shell and built it like the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. The building set precedence and began the Moorish Spanish revival of architecture, and in 1904 it became the Zorayda Club. Abraham S. Mussallem, an authority on Oriental rugs, fine arts and Egyptian artefacts bought the club and made it a fashionable place 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 villa contains luxurious interior details, includes tropical hardwood furniture and the "Sultans Den" which has a 2400 year-old rug made from woven ancient cat fur. Taken from a pyramid in Egypt it is said to possess a curse for anyone that walks on it. One of the more notable features of the building is the windows. Each window is a different shape and size because, according to superstition, with such windows the spirits could leave the house but would have trouble finding their way back in. Over the years, this unique building has been used a speakeasy. A speakeasy, also called a blind pig or blind tiger, is an establishment that illegally sold alcoholic beverages during the Prohibition era 1920–1933. During that time, the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcoholic beverages was illegal throughout the United States. Speakeasies largely disappeared after Prohibition was ended in 1933, and the term is now used to describe some retro style bars.
Villa Zorayda Museum Travel Tips
- Tips & Warnings: The rug is supposedly cursed so that anyone who sets foot upon the sacred image will die, and so the museum wisely keeps it hanging on the wall.
- No photographs are allowed.
- There is a fabulous collection of hand-carved antique furniture.
- You are your own tour guide, which allows you to enjoy the museum at your own pace.
- Upon entry, you're given an audio device that shares the rich history of the building and the beautiful antiquities inside.
- The last tour begins at 4.30pm.
Entrance Ticket Details For Villa Zorayda Museum
If you buy online you get a discount:
- For Adult: $ 9
- For Child: $ 3.80
- For Senior: $ 8.75
If you purchase the tickets on the spot you not get any discount :
- For Adult: $ 10
- For Child: $ 4
- For Senior: $ 9
- Luvin Oven's Hot Shot Bakery & Café: Bakery, Breakfast, Lunch
- Cafe Alcazar: Continental
- Casa Monica: Armenian
- Reflections Bistro: Sandwiches
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13.71% of people who visit St Augustine include Villa Zorayda Museum in their plan
10 AM - 11 AM
90.35% of people start their Villa Zorayda Museum visit around 10 AM - 11 AM
People usually take around 1 Hr to see Villa Zorayda Museum
95% of people prefer to travel by car while visiting Villa Zorayda Museum
Villa Zorayda Museum Reviews & Ratings
No photos permitted inside the museum which was a little disappointing but enjoyed the self-guided tour. You have to go just to see the famous cat rug and all the other acquired antiques, statues, paintings and photographs. This is the house that forever changed St. Augustine architecture!
This museum is a true treasure in St. Augustine. Packed full of original antiquities and unique architectural decor from the late 1800s and early 1900s. The handheld audio tour allows you to move at your own pace and take it all in. This is not a place for youngsters-they will not appreciate it! Many thanks to the family members who have maintained and renovated this property for anyone to enjoy. "Over 105 years and three generations, the Mussallem/Byles family have been the guardians of the Villa Zorayda."
There are no photos allowed and it's painfully boring. They definitely need a new narrator on the handheld devices. If you don't have much time in St. Augustine I'd definitely recommend not spending it here.
Pretty cool place with a lot of things to look at. Audio tour you can take at your own pace. You could spend a half hour or if you wanted to, two hours depending on how in depth you wanna go.
Villa Zorayda was a really boring, definitely not for kids kind of museum. They don't allow you to photograph anything or they'll remove you from the house. The tour is entirely audio guided on a little phone you have to hold up to your ear the entire walkthrough. Boring for kids, artifacts and art were boring, and the story was boring. Spend your money and time elsewhere.