A national historic landmark and the only official state residence of royalty in the United States, Downtown Honolulu’s Iolani Palace was the official residence of the Hawaiian Kingdom’s last two monarchs from 1882 to 1893: King Kalakaua and his sister and successor, Queen Liliuokalani.
The palace was a symbol of promise for the Hawaiian Kingdom built by King David Kalakaua, “The Merrie Monarch.” Influenced by European architectural styles, this royal residence included Hawaii’s first electric light system, flush toilets and intra-house telephones. The rich interior features a beautiful koa staircase, dramatic portraits of Hawaiian royalty, ornate furniture and royal gifts and ornaments from around the world.
In 1893, a provisional U.S. government was established after opposition forces overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy. The Hawaiian Islands were eventually annexed as a United States Territory in 1898. Hawaii became the 50th state in 1959 and during this time Iolani Palace was used as the capitol building until 1968. After falling into disrepair over the years, the Iolani Palace was opened to the public in 1978 after an extensive renovation.
Tour through this American Florentine-style palace’s throne room, reception and dining room and envision the magnificent state dinners and balls held here. View the private living quarters of the royal family and listen to the tragic story of Liliuokalani’s imprisonment in an upstairs bedroom following the overthrow. On the basement level view the ancient regalia of Hawaiian royalty from swords and precious jewelry to the two golden crowns of the King and Queen. On the spacious grounds of the palace, see the Iolani Coronation Pavilion, where in 1883 Kalakaua was crowned king.
Also note that Iolani Palace sits in the center of a vital area that is worth a walking tour. Across South King Street you’ll find Aliiolani Hale and the King Kamehameha I statue. Right behind Iolani Palace is the State Capitol building and Washington Place, home to the governor. To the east are the historic Kawaiahao Church, Honolulu Hale (home to the City Council and offices of the Mayor) and the Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Sites and Archives. To the west you’ll discover the Hawaii State Art Museum as well as Oahu’s main financial and arts district in Downtown Honolulu and Chinatown.
You can take a guided tour or a self-guided audio tour of the Palace Tuesday through Saturday. If you’re facing the Palace, the ticket office is to the left on the State Capitol side of the building. One of Oahu’s most important historical places, Iolani Palace plays an integral part in understanding the history and culture of Hawaii. Learn more about the Iolani Palace.