by VICTORIA HENLEY
Recognized as a cultural epicenter of Hawaiian identity, the Iolani Palace was erected in 1882 by King Kalakaua and served as the home of Hawaii’s last remaining monarchs.
Brimming with masterful (not to mention remarkably well-preserved) architecture and regal (and historically accurate) interior decor, the Iolani Palace is a piece of living history, integral to Hawaii’s deeply rooted culture which still thrives today.
A destination of many important political, cultural, and social events, the Iolani Palace receives recognition to this day as the only royal palace in the United States and was wired for electricity and telephones prior to the White House in Washington D.C.
Ardently committed to his people and the culture of Hawaii, King Kalakaua created many initiatives to assist the citizens of Hawaii economically. Greatly impassioned to preserve traditions, he even helped revitalize the waning hula dance, still beloved and regularly performed to this day.
Kalakaua’s successor, Queen Liliuokalani, became the first woman to rule Hawaii and worked tirelessly for the betterment of Hawaii’s citizens and toward the protection and preservation of Hawaii’s monarchy, which was being threatened by white foreigners.
Unfortunately, the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown in 1893, and Queen Liliuokalani was held prisoner in the palace she loved.
While the end of the Hawaiian monarchy marked a period of unrest, turmoil, and unraveling for the morale, economy, and culture of Hawaii, the palace stood its ground through endless periods of political and social change.
The Iolani Palace was first restored in 1935 for administrative usage, and after subsequent years of wear/tear and neglect, Gov. John A. Burns began new renovations, leading to the iconic palace being officially placed on The National Registry of Historic Places.
Once the arduous renovation process was finalized, the palace officially opened as a museum to the public in 1978 and has since hosted droves of visitors from around the world, who flock to marvel at the palace’s otherworldly grandeur.
Guests have the opportunity roam the corridors of the last remaining home to Hawaii’s legendary royals, peeking inside the majestic dining halls and abodes these important historical figures occupied.
Fashion enthusiasts will delight in the “Fashion Fit for Royalty” display, which highlights the wardrobe and jewelry choices of Hawaiian Royalty in the 19th century, and a striking collection of historic photographs, handmade quilts, artworks, as well Davenport Furniture is also on display for viewing.
The basement area of the palace, which guests are free to explore at their own leisure following the tour, houses a staggering amount of priceless jewelry worn by the queen herself as well as a bevy of intriguing reading materials and artifacts.
Our docent, Hardy, who is one of the most personable, knowledgeable, and skilled tour guides with whom we have ever had the pleasure of working, welcomed us with the beautiful “E Komo Mai (Welcome)” song, before providing us an endless trove of wisdom and insights of Iolani Palace’s deep, vast, and profound influence upon Hawaii.
Visit the “theater “ area of the Barracks to watch a short, educational film about the magical palace and the endless legacy of the larger-than-life individuals who called it home.
Special thanks to Jocelyn for facilitating our fantastic tour of the Iolani Palace.
PHONE NUMBER: (808) 522-0822
Victoria Henley writes Backstage Pass for iHeart Radio and CTFashionMag.com.