Villa Zorayda in St Augustine, also known by many as the Zorayda Castle, is a stunning house located in Florida’s oldest city of St. Augustine at 83 King Street. It was built by Boston millionaire Franklin W. Smith back in 1883 to act as his private home within St. Augustine and was inspired by the 12th century Moorish Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. Since 1993, the Villa Zorayda Museum in St Augustine has been part of the United States National Register of Historic Places. Now a museum, the home is owned by the Mussallem family and contains a huge collection of original art and antiques that Franklin Smith and Abraham Mussallem gathered over the years.
Take A Tour through the Villa Zorayda Museum
Though the Villa Zorayda had been closed for eight years to undergo extensive renovation, it has recently once again been opened to the public as a museum. A 45 to 60-minute tour is available to guests and provides an in-depth look at the historical significance of this unique building as part of the city of St. Augustine.
One of the fascinating pieces within the Villa includes the “Sacred Cat Rug” which is over 2400 years old and is made up of the hairs of many ancient cats that once roamed along the Nile River. The rug was taken from a pyramid in Egypt and tales of a curse cast upon anyone who treads on the rug make for an especially enticing story!
Aside from the fascinating history of the Villa, the architecture is unlike anywhere else. Made up of dozens of beautiful paintings, intricate hanging brass lamps, lots of oriental rugs in many bright colors, a large collection of antiques, fine art pieces and 17th century furniture making this museum well worth the visit.
Admission at the Villa Zorayda Museum in St Augustine
Adult tickets are $10 each, tickets for seniors and military are $9 each, children age 7-12 are $5, and children under 6 years of age get in free.
Image By OliviaBM123 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47392156