Hawaii’s Historic Landmark – The Iolani Palace

Nov 13, 2019 | General Information

The islands of Hawaii have a large number of Federal and state historic sites, many of which are worth visiting. The state is home to 33 sites that are part of the US National Historic Landmark program. The greatest number are on Oahu.

Among the many historic sites on Oahu, Iolani Palace is the most important and well worth a visit. The official residence of Hawaii’s monarchy, this majestic structure has been meticulously restored to its former grandeur. Influenced by European architectural styles, this royal residence even included Hawaii’s first electric light system. The rich interior features a beautiful koa staircase, dramatic portraits of Hawaiian royalty, ornate furniture and royal gifts and ornaments from around the world.

This national historic landmark in downtown Honolulu reveals a very special time when King David Kalakaua, “the Merrie Monarch,” who built the palace in 1882, and his sister and successor, Queen Liliuokalani, occupied the opulent building. Iolani Palace remained the royal residence for the Kingdom of Hawaii from 1845 to 1893. In 1893, a provisional U.S. government was established after the monarchy was overthrown. The Hawaiian Islands were annexed as a US Territory in 1898. Hawaii became the 50th state in 1959. During this time Iolani Palace was used as the capitol building until 1969. After falling into disrepair over the years, the Iolani Palace was renovated and opened to the public in 1978 as a museum.

A tour of Iolani Palace will visually help visitors to understand much about Hawaii’s monarchy. Moving through the Florentine-style palace’s throne room, reception and dining room, it becomes easier to envision the royal family’s vision of the monarchy’s image in the rest of the world at the time. Magnificent state dinners and balls were held there. Visit the private living quarters of the royal family which also presents the tragic story of Queen Liliuokalani’s imprisonment in an upstairs bedroom following the monarchy’s overthrow. On the spacious grounds of the palace,the Iolani Coronation Pavilion is where Kalakaua was crowned king.

In the vicinity of Iolani Palace are other historic sites. Right behind Iolani Palace is the State Capitol building and Washington Place. Washington Place is where Queen Queen Liliuokalani was arrested during the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom. The residence later housed 13 Hawaiian Governors before being converted into a museum. To the east is historic Kawaiahao Ka vai a hah o Church. Popularly known as Hawaii’s Westminster Abbey, Kawaiaha’o Ka vai a hah o Church was once the national church of the Kingdom of Hawaii and the chapel for the royal family.