Historic Markers Across Florida

Villa Zorayda

Marker ID: FLHM F-373
Location: on King Street (Bus, U.S. 1) bet
County: St. Johns
Coordinates: N 29° 53.504    W 081° 18.916
  29.89173333    -81.31526666
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMVMX


Villa Zorayda
(Zorayda Castle)

The Villa Zorayda was constructed in 1883 as the winter home of Franklin Smith, a Boston millionaire who was so impressed by the magnificence of the Alhambra Palace which he saw during a visit to Granada, Spain, that he decided to build his house as an exact replica of one wing of the palace at one-tenth of the original size. The 12th century palace had been built by the Moors who ruled Spain for six centuries before being expelled in 1492. Smith, a gifted amateur architect, designed the house himself, using the innovative technique of constructing the building with poured concrete reinforced with crushed coquina stone. Many other materials used in finishing the residence were imported from Spain. In 1913, the building was bought by Abraham S. Mussallem. In 1922, it became a nightclub and gambling casino which closed in 1925 when Florida outlawed gambling. In 1936, it was opened as a tourist attraction called the Zorayda Castle, exhibiting items fitting the architectural theme of the building. The property was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1993

F-373 Sponsored by Zorayda Castle
and the Florida Department of State


City: St. Augustine, FL