Gianni Versace Miami Mansion Design Was Inspired By Alcázar De Colón In Dominican Republic

Mansion
The Casa Casuarina famously and commonly known as the Versace Mansion was modeled after Christopher Columbus residence, located in the Dominican Republic, and locally named as the Alcazar de Colón. Photo: Getty Images/ DR Tourism

Located in 1116 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach, FL, the Casa Casuarina might be a Luxury 5-star boutique hotel, but the history behind this property makes it the most iconic of South Beach. The Villa Casa Casuarina was the home of the famous Italian fashion designer, Gianni Versace, from 1992 to July 15, 1997.

Commonly known as the Versace Mansion, this edification was built in 1930 by architect Alden Freeman. Its Mediterranean Revival style was inspired in the Alcázar De Colón in Santo Domingo, a residence built in 1510 by the son of Christopher Columbus and known as the oldest existing house in the western hemisphere.

After Versace purchased the building for $2.9 million, he got the city approval to demolish the hotel next door, and built a 6,100-foot addition plus a pool, transforming the place into the iconic Versace's Miami Beach house. Versace completely redecorated it with unique details that characterized him. The mansion decoration includes Versace's head of Medusa, pine cones, gold planters, fruit bowls, medallions, fountains, a mosaic garden, broze statues and the globally known entrance steps where Gianni Versace was shot by serial killer Andrew Cunanan.

Versace Mansion Pool The Versace Mansion pool is known as the "million mosaic pool." Photo: Casa Cassuarina

In September 2000 for approximately $19 million, Peter Loftin, a telecommunications billionaire, purchased the house, restored it and turned it into a high-end boutique hotel and club as well as a luxurious residential property. He later sold the mansion to VM South Beach, LLC for $41.5 million in 2013. Since 2015, the Villa Casa Casuarina has been a luxury hotel with 10 suites and the renowned gourmet restaurant Gianni's, a bar and an event space.

After Season 3 of "American Crime Story" premiered, that focuses on the assasination of Gianni Versace, and is produced by FX series, the curiosity of the house arose, even though the front of the property remains one of the most photographed places in Miami Beach. According to Miami New Times, the opulent property can be booked for about $1,600 a night, and to sleep in Versace's own suite can cost as much as $2,500. 

If you are currently living in a budget you can visit the inspiration itself, the Alcázar de Colón, or Columbus Alcazar, located in Santo Domingo's Ciudad Colonial. The Ciudad Colonial is part of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites, and exhibits the Caribbean's most important ensemble of European late medieval and Renaissance works of art.

The Alcázar's architectural style is gothic mudejar typical of the early 16th century, and was built of coralline blocks. The mansion used to have fifty rooms and a number of gardens and courtyards. Now the the most visited museum in Santo Domingo, it's about half the size it once was, because in 1586, the palace was sacked by Sir Francis Drake and his forces.

The house fell into ruins, was abandoned and between 1955 and 1957 was rescued and extensively restored. A self-guided tour using a portable audio speaker that discusses each room's function is available in various languages, and it's free every last Sunday of the month until December 31. 

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Shirley Gomez has been exposed to many aspects of the art world. Besides being a Fashion Journalist, she studied Fashion Styling and Fashion Styling for Men at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, Interior Design at UNIBE and Fashion Design at ITSMJ Fashion School in the Dominican Republic. She worked as a Fashion Journalist, Fashion Stylist and Social Media Manager at one of the most recognized magazines in the Dominican Republic, Oh! Magazine, as an occasional Entertainment Journalist, of the prestigious newspaper “Listín Diario”, as well as a fashion collaborator of a radio show aired in 100.9 FM SuperQ. When Shirley is not writing you can find her listening Demi Lovato or Beyonce's songs, decorating her apartment or watching Family Feud.