Villa Zorayda Museum

0.75 Hour
Group Activity
Mild

From (USD) $11 Per Adult / $6 Per Child

Villa Zorayda Museum

0.75 Hour
Group Activity
Mild

From (USD) $11 Per Adult / $6 Per Child

Choose your date

change
change

Choose an available time

Adult (Ages 13+)

Child (Ages 8-12)

    For Groups of 20 or more, please contact our GoTo Crew.

      $0.00

      JavaScript is required to complete booking

      Villa Zorayda Museum

      St. Augustine, Florida, USA
      From (USD) $11 Per Adult / $6 Per Child
      Highlights
      • Villa Zorayda: Boston businessman Franklin Smith was so enamored with the Alhambra Palace's Spanish-revival architecture that he replicated it in his own Moorish fantasy villa.
      • Innovative construction: The mix of coquina (basically, seashells) with Portland cement created an attractive, super-hard concrete that became St. Augustine's preferred style.
      • The museum: See rare art, priceless antiques, tropical hardwood furniture, the 2,400-year-old Sacred Cat fur rug, and a three-piece inlaid table that took five men nine years to complete.
      About this St. Augustine, Florida tour

      The Gilded Age millionaire who re-created a fanciful Spanish castle in St. Augustine and created a signature Florida architectural style in the process was as fascinating as the museum he left behind.

      Franklin W. Smith was moral, religious, and industrious; when the church where he supervised Sunday school burned down, he helped rebuild it. He vigorously opposed slavery and danced with his wife at Abraham Lincoln's inaugural ball. He founded the Boston YMCA. He was so honest with military contracts that he was court-martialed as a civilian for, essentially, embarrassing Navy brass. (Lincoln overturned the guilty verdict.) And he was an innovative amateur architect who, when he decided to build a winter home in St. Augustine, pioneered a new construction technique that changed everything.

      Inspired by a visit to Granada's magnificent Alhambra Palace, Smith did more than adapt its lavish interiors and gorgeous Moorish arches, columns, and curves. He turned Florida's surfeit of seashells into a new type of building concrete fast-setting and solid as rock. This "coquina" concrete was cheaper than brick and beautiful in a rugged, unfinished way; after millionaire developer Henry Flagler adopted it for St. Augustine hotels and churches, it became a look and style of its own. That's why it's everywhere in this town, and pretty much all over Florida.

      Yet the man behind the museum may have been even more influential. His Villa Zorayda is thought of by some as Florida's first "fantasy" architecture, preceding Disney World by more than eight decades.

      Not bad for an amateur.

      Curse of the cat

      The cat-worshipping ancient Egyptians found a novel use for the hair of the felines that roamed the Nile's banks: They made rugs out of it. The Zorayda Museum's Sacred Cat rug, woven about 24 centuries ago and looted from one of the Great Pyramids, is said to come with a curse for anyone who walks on it. Which should help it last several centuries longer.

      Getting prepared
      Tour Participation Requirements
      Bring money Bring money
      Wear comfortable shoes Wear comfortable shoes
      Cancellation policy

      Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.

      100 countries, 915 cities… limitless possibilities

      OurPromise
      Local

      All our tours are offered by expert local guides & operators

      Authentic

      Head off the beaten path with our unique tours & activities

      Experienced

      You can rely on our team of travel industry experts

      General disclaimer

      Your order is subject to TourTrek's Booking Ticket Agreement, including all TourTrek and GoBe policies incorporated therein.

      Have you been on this experience?

      Write a Review

      Fields marked are required.

      Please enter your review.

      or 

      Looking for other experiences in St. Augustine?