King Kalakaua built IOLANI PALACE to enhance the prestige of Hawai‘i overseas and to mark Hawai‘i’s status as a modern nation. Today, Iolani Palace remains the only palace to have housed ruling royalty in the United States.
In August 1882, King David Kalakaua opened the palace doors to welcome members of his legislative assembly and other invited dignitaries to view his official residence. Later, renowned guests from around the world sat at the king’s dinner table, among them Prince Oscar of Sweden and Norway, and Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson.
Architects Thomas J. Baker, C.S. Wall and Isaac Moore created a palace for the modern age. Built in the American Florentine style, the palace had electricity four years prior to the White House, and the king installed a telephone in his office so he could keep in immediate contact with his chamberlain.
Upon King Kalakaua’s death, this home became the official residence of his sister, Queen Liliu‘okalani, the last monarch of Hawai‘i. She was deposed in 1893, and the palace immediately became a heavily trafficked government office building.
In 1969, restoration work began with the help of the Junior League, and Iolani Palace now boasts its original beauty. However, many of the objects and artifacts were auctioned following the overthrow of Queen Liliu‘okalani; the recovery and restoration of original palace furnishings continues today.
Deemed a National Historical Landmark, Iolani Palace is located in downtown Honolulu on the corner of King and Richards streets. Docent-led tours are available to the public on Wednesdays, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., and Thursdays, 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m., and must be booked in advance online. Reservations are made on a first-come, f rst-served basis. Self- guided audio tours are available Wednesdays, 1:30-2:30 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. All guests are temperature-checked at Hale Koa (barracks) prior to picking up tickets and facemasks are required for the palace and Hale Koa. For more information and updates, call (808) 522-0822 or visit iolanipalace.org.