Discover the triumphs and tragedies of the Hawaiian royal family and see their jewels, living quarters and more in Hawaii’s royal palace.
Explore Iolani Palace to see the crowns worn by Hawaiian Kings and Queens more than 100 years ago and marvel at their collection of jewelry and regalia. Explore their living quarters and take a tour to learn how the last Hawaiian queen was imprisoned here when the monarchy was eventually overthrown. Elsewhere you’ll see the elaborate reception and throne room and the well-tended palace gardens.
Iolani Palace was opened in 1882 after three years of work by King David Kalākaua. The building’s design was inspired by his travels around the world and the high arches and symmetrical columns owe much to the Italian renaissance style. The palace famously had electricity and telephones installed before the White House. It served only 10 years as the Hawaiian palace before the monarchy was overthrown by the American government. The palace became a museum in 1978.
Make your way through the reception room, the throne room and the dining halls and envisage the grand banquets and parties that would have been held here. Look out for the ornate staircase made from koa wood and admire the portraits of previous Hawaiian monarchs that adorn the walls.
Upstairs you’ll find the bedrooms and living quarters of the past Kings and Queens. You will find more impressive furniture and artwork here, but make sure you take some time to learn the story of Queen Liliʻuokalani. The last Hawaiian monarch to rule the islands, she was imprisoned in her own bedroom when the Americans seized control of the island.
Descend into the basement to see the crowns and more precious jewels as well as a collection of ornaments from around the world. In the gardens don’t miss the Iolani Coronation Pavilion, where the last two Hawaiian monarchs were sworn in.
Guided tours of the palace are available and are a great way to learn more about the rich history of the building and its inhabitants. Self-guided tours are also possible; ask for a brochure when you enter.
The Iolani Palace is located on South King Street in downtown Honolulu. Several bus and trolley routes stop nearby. It is closed on Sundays and public holidays, and there is a small charge for entry.