St Augustine’s Villa Zorayda Museum will host special “Behind the Scenes Tour every Tuesday of rarely seen areas of the museum where their docent will explain past and future uses and plans for the area. The highlight of the tour is the never seen before “Tower of the Princesses” located on the third floor which was a bedroom in the original house and where time has stood still. Stairs are steep and narrow and visitors must be in good physical condition to make the climb.
Guests begin with the audio guided tour and conclude with the “behind the scenes” tour. Their are two tours one at 9 a.m. and the second at 9:30 a.m. (reservations required). The tour lasts approximately 1.5 hours and admission is $19.95 for adults and children 8 – 12 are $9 (not recommended for children 7 and under). Please call for reservations. 83 King St., St. Augustine. Call 904-829-9887 or visit www.villazorayda.com for more information.
History of the Villa Zorayda Castle
On the National Register of Historic Places, the Villa Zorayda was built in 1883 as the winter residence of Franklin Smith utilizing his method of construction of poured concrete and crushed coquina shell. It is built 1/10th the scale of a section of the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. This building set a precedence for St. Augustine and began the Moorish Spanish revival of architecture that is seen throughout the city today.
In 1904 it became the Zorayda Club. On display for the first time ever is the custom made bone china made exclusively for the Zorayda Club. In 1913 it was purchased by Abraham S. Mussallem, an authority on Oriental rugs, fine arts and Egyptian artifacts. In 1922 it became one of the most fashionable places for casino gambling. In the mid 1930’s it was opened as a museum featuring the priceless antique collections of both Franklin Smith and A.S. Mussallem which are still on display today.