Hawaii is known for more than its majestic scenery and abundant beauty. Every bit of Hawaii is rich in history, culture, and a sense of community. The Iolani Palace is a Hawaiian landmark that not only symbolizes Hawaii’s past but the heritage that Hawaiians are so proud of still today. Read on to understand why the luxurious, opulent, and spectacular Iolani Palace is one of Hawaii’s most-visited attractions.

The History of Iolani Palace

It all began on December 31st, 1879, when the cornerstone for Iolani Palace was first laid. It was designed to house the Hawaiian monarchs, the royal family, and other important officials. Completed in 1882, the palace was home first to King Kalakaua and then nation’s last-reigning monarch, Queen Liliuokalani. As a beacon of Hawaiian strength still today, she inspired her people after her brother, King Kalakaua died in 1981 by taking her rightful place.

In just a short time, the Iolani Palace served as more than the official, royal residency. It became Hawaii’s epicenter for political, social, and cultural life. It stood tall, in grandeur, until the monarchy was overthrown in 1893. After the monarchy fell, the palace went through a myriad of changes but was finally restored to its current glory in the 1970s, after being established as an American National Historic Landmark in 1962.

All of the Fine Details

Iolani Palace was a truly magnificent sight to behold. It sits on the southern shores of Oahu and was designed to be the grandest piece of property Hawaii had ever seen, housing the royal family and government officials, and hosting official functions and dignitaries from all over the globe. As the center of Hawaiian culture, parties, dances, and important matters all occurred under the palace’s roof.

When completed, the massive palace had all of the up-to-date amenities you would expect and many that people didn’t expect in Hawaii at the time, like the nation’s first electric lights, indoor plumbing, and an advanced communications system. And aside from the building itself, the Palace Grounds matched Iolani’s spectacular opulence.

The Significance of Iolani Palace

Iolani Palace was ahead of its time, impressed people from all walks of life, and put Hawaii on the international map. It still stands today as a symbol of Hawaii’s rich history, culture, and strength. Even today, Iolani Palace is considered the “spiritual and physical multicultural epicenter of Hawaii.

There is extraordinary historical significance to the palace as well. Even the ground it was built on dates back to antiquity and is still believed today to be an ancient site of worship. The grounds were also home to King Kamehameha III and the first 5 Hawaiian Kings before the property was demolished to make way for the Iolani Palace.

Visiting Iolani Palace and Other Interesting Facts

Iolani Palace was restored to its original beauty and today houses artifacts, furniture, and pieces of Hawaiian culture that are visited by thousands of people each year. In addition to the Iolani Palace itself, visitors can enjoy the splendor of the grounds, which includes Keliiponi Hale, The Sacred Mound, and Hale Koa.

Hale Koa is also known as the Iolani Barracks and was originally designed to house the Royal Guard. The Sacred Mound is a mysterious and alluring area, marked off by fences to respect those who may be resting there. This site once served as a royal tomb for kings, queens, and other important Hawaiian chiefs. Keliiponi Hale, also known as the Coronation Pavilion, was used for the coronation of King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani and is still used today as the location for the inauguration of Hawaii’s Governor.

Visitors can explore historical archives, browse the extensive collections within the palace, and even enjoy on-site concerts by the Royal Hawaiian Band at Iolani Palace.


As a symbol of Hawaii’s past, rich culture, and the strength of their people, Iolani Palace continues to inspire Hawaiian life today.