Historic Museum in St. Augustine Inspired by the Alhambra Palace

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Villa Zorayda is a historic museum in St. Augustine, Florida that is a unique architectural wonder. It’s one of those places that quickly takes over you with its stunning design and architecture.

If you’re planning to visit St Augustine during the Nights of Lights Festival, then you should visit Villa Zorayda during that time!

This building was built in 1883 by Franklin W. Smith and his inspiration came from the famous Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain.

Villa Zorayda is also one of the few remaining examples of the Moorish Revival Style in the United States. Pretty cool, right?

entrance of villa zorayda historic museum in st augustine

Inside you’ll find artifacts from Smith’s travels around the world, including items from Egypt, Morocco, and Syria.

You can take photos anywhere inside the Villa Zorayda museum except in the Egypt Room where no photography or videography is allowed.

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Nonetheless, you can enjoy the self-guided audio tour in this St Augustine museum and view the many artifacts, including a variety of carved furniture, sculptures, jewelry, and pottery.

villa zorayda museum

As for us, we fell in love with the details in the columns and walls of Villa Zorayda. We personally love spending our weekends in St Augustine because there is always something new to discover.

Without a doubt, this is a fascinating history museum in St Augustine to learn about history and culture. Furthermore, if you love architecture, this is a must-visit!

carved furniture inside villa zorayda
villa zorayda moorish revival style inspried by alhambra palace

The Sacred Cat Rug – One of the Oldest Pieces in this Historic Museum in St. Augustine

After Smith’s death, Villa Zorayda was sold to Abraham Mussallem, who was an expert in oriental rugs and Egyptian artifacts.

One of the most incredible things he had found was a 2400-year-old rug made from real cat hair from ancient times that was around the Nile River.

All wrapped up inside the rug was a human mummified foot which you can also see on display in the Egypt Room of Villa Zorayda.

sacred cat rug in historic museum in st. augustine
Photo from Ancient Origins. No photography is allowed inside the Egypt Room of the Villa Zorayda Museum where The Sacred Cat Rug is displayed.

The Sacred Cat Rug is believed to be the oldest in the world and you can see it displayed inside the Villa Zorayda museum. In addition, rumor has it that this ancient rug is cursed.

Regardless, this is a very unique and beautiful piece of history that has been a highlight of the museum for many years.

villa zorayda christmas tree and candlelights
Villa Zorayda Christmas Decor during St Augustine’s Nights of Lights

Plan Your Visit to Villa Zorayda Museum

General tours: $14 per person

Candlelight tours: offered on select dates during the Nights of Lights festival. $22.99 per adult, $12.99 per child ages 6-12.

General admission hours: Monday – Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm, Sundays from 11 am to 4 pm.

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Yanitza Ninett
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Yanitza is an avid adventurer with 15+ years of hiking experience and outdoor travel. As a PADI-certified scuba diver, she's also passionate about ocean conservation. When she's not exploring the great outdoors, Yanitza obsesses over The Vampire Diaries and dreams of traveling to Mallorca, Spain.

10 thoughts on “Historic Museum in St. Augustine Inspired by the Alhambra Palace”

  1. Villa Zorayda looks like a stunning treat. I can see why it is likened to the Alhambra. How fascinating to wander around and see all the things collected from around the world. But I might avoid the cursed rug! A good stop in St Augustine.

  2. I’ve seen Villa Zorayda from the outside, but we never went in! Now I wish I had. I can see the inspiration from Alhambra perfectly – what a brilliant homage!


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