As the oldest city in the nation, St. Augustine is filled with several fascinating historic sites and museums. One of the city’s must-visit museums, however, is the Villa Zorayda, a 19th-century home that has earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Here’s what you need to know about the Villa Zorayda, or you can find other historic spots just like it in our complimentary St. Augustine Vacation Guide!
History of the Villa Zorayda
The Villa Zorayda was originally constructed in 1883 and served as the winter home of Franklin Webster Smith, a millionaire idealistic reformer from Boston. The home was designed to resemble a section of the famous Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. It was this very building that set the precedence for St. Augustine and started the Moorish Spanish Revival style of architecture that you see throughout the city.
After extensive renovations from 2000 to 2008, the Villa Zorayda is now open to the public as a museum and showcases the home’s 135 years of lively history.
What You’ll See at the Villa Zorayda Museum
Should you choose to visit Villa Zorayda, self-guided tours are included with admission and run continuously throughout the day. The tour is performed by audio and illustrates the history of the building’s importance in St. Augustine. You’ll learn interesting details about the design of the home, facts about the times it served as a casino, restaurant, and speakeasy, and information about the home’s impressive collection of original art. You’ll be blown away by the mansion’s beauty and the extensive history that lives within its walls.
Villa Zorayda Candlelight Tour
Each holiday season, the Villa Zorayda hosts their popular candlelight tours. During select evenings of the Nights of Lights event, you’ll be able to explore the home by candlelight and admire all of the breathtaking Christmas decorations. The most beloved of these decorations is the stunning Christmas tree adorned in the colors of the Zorayda, red and gold. Arrive early and you’ll enjoy complimentary refreshments such as homemade Christmas cookies and punch.
Candlelight tours usually last about 1.5 hours and include an in-depth view of the history of Villa Zorayda.
Villa Zorayda Tickets
Admission to the Villa Zorayda is just $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 7-12. There are also discounts for seniors over the age of 60, members of the military, and students. Docent-led tours can also be arranged in advance for $16 per adult and $7 for children.
More St. Augustine Museums That You Must Visit
The Villa Zorayda is just one of the many incredible museums that you have to see in St. Augustine. Here is a quick overview of other local museums that we’re sure you’ll love just as much as we do.
Housed in the former Alcazar Hotel, the Lightner Museum is one of St. Augustine’s most treasured icons. The stunning architecture and fine collections of 19th-century art are what attract visitors from all over the globe to this awe-inspiring attraction.
Potter’s Wax Museum
With wax figures of all your favorite celebrities, political figures, and all-star athletes, the Potter’s Wax Museum offers a surreal experience for visitors from all over the nation. During your visit, you’ll have the opportunity to admire and take pictures with over 150 well-known figures including Austin Powers and Dr. Evil, Einstein, Captain Jack Sparrow, Michael Jackson, and U.S. presidents.
St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum
The St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum is the world’s largest collection of authentic pirate artifacts displayed under one roof. It’s an exciting and educational experience that not only reveals the history of pirates, but also colonial America. Some of the most popular artifacts on display include Blackbeard’s own blunderbuss, one of the three remaining Jolly Roger flags, the world’s oldest wanted poster, and the original treasure chest of Captain Thomas Tew.
Book Your Next St. Augustine Getaway With Us
After exploring our city’s local museums, come back to the Victorian House for a full evening of pure relaxation. Our elegant bed & breakfast is located right in the heart of St. Augustine’s historic district, making it ideal for travelers seeking comfort and convenience to their favorite local attractions. The highly-appointed guest rooms are also equipped with everything you need for a memorable getaway including private porches, fireplaces, JACUZZI® tubs, and more. Guests will even enjoy a complimentary hot breakfast served each morning during their stay.
For ultimate luxury, the Patricia Room is one of our most popular JACUZZI® suites. The room is elegantly decorated in shades of gold and is filled with a wide variety of amenities including a private outdoor balcony, an electric fireplace, and a comfortable king-sized bed.