Villa Zorayda Museum

Explore an architectural masterpiece built by Franklin Smith in 1883. The Villa Zorayda is a 1/10th scale replica of a small portion of the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. Originally built as a private home it has an extensive art & antique collection including an ancient Egyptian rug over 2400 years old!


  • Famous Castle inspired by the Moors
  • Extensive art & antique collection
  • 2400 year old Sacred Cat Rug taken from one of the pyramids in Egypt
  • Continuous audio guided tours in English, Espanol and French
  • On the National Register of Historic Places
Experience an architectural masterpiece built by Franklin Smith in 1883. Learn the history of the Villa Zorayda and the importance of Franklin Smith's poured concrete & crushed coquina stone construction which literally changed the way St. Augustine would look forever. This building set a precedence for St. Augustine and began the Moorish Spanish revival of architecture that is seen throughout the city today. 

On the National Register of Historic Places, the Villa Zorayda is built 1/10th the scale of a small portion of the Alhambra Palace in Granada Spain. Take a step back in time as you enter this Grand Gilded Age former home with its beautiful Moorish horseshoe arches, elegant traceries and columns replicated from the Alhambra Palace. Over the years the Villa has been a private residence, club, gambling casino and beginning in the 1930's a museum. 

In addition to the magnificent architecture of the building is the extensive antique collections of Abraham S. Mussallem, an authority on Oriental rugs, fine arts and Egyptian artifacts, and Franklin Smith. These collections feature paintings, furniture, hand pierced brass lamps, custom made porcelain china, and a 3 piece inlaid settee and gaming table that took 5 men 9 years to complete. On display is the "Sacred Cat Rug" over 2400 years old and made from the hairs of ancient cats that roamed the Nile River. Taken from a pyramid in Egypt it is said to possess a curse for anyone that walks on it! 

After several years of historical renovation, the Villa Zorayda with its collection of unique antiquities is a must see on your visit to our nation's oldest city!