Modeled after a lavish Italian Renaissance style palace, Vizcaya was built in 1916 as the winter residence of industrialist James Deering. The estate is located on the west shore of Biscayne Bay and is operated as a decorative arts museum by the Dade County Park and Recreation Department. Vizcaya is famous for its fantastically decorated rooms filled with antiques ranging from the 15th through the early 19th centuries and for its ornamental ironwork, particularly the front gate, created by Samuel Yellin. The estate is also well known for its formal gardens inspired by Italian Renaissance palace gardens. Among the many gardens at Vizcaya are the walled Secret Garden, the large Formal Garden with elaborately clipped low hedges; the Theatre Garden, a small garden in the form of an Italian outdoor theatre; and the Fountain Garden, a large circular garden with a 16th century fountain at its center. Also of note are the Casino, a loggia or open summer retreat at the southern end of the garden; the Mount, an artificial hill with man made shell lined grottoes in the front and back; a latticed Tea House on one end of the sea wall and a breakwater built in the shape of a large stone barge. Local building materials were used throughout the house and grounds and several prominent artists contributed to the overall decoration of the estate.
Vizcaya, a National Historic Landmark, is at 3151 South Miami Avenue in Miami. The house is open daily 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.; Gardens open daily 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Admission. (305) 579-2708.