Much more than just a popular Honolulu visitor attraction, Iolani Palace is the only royal palace to exist within the United States of America. Constructed in 1882, this ornate palace served as the political centerpiece for the Kingdom of Hawaii, and monarchs such as King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani ruled the kingdom from its luxurious halls.
During the time it was constructed, Iolani Palace was considered to be one of the most modern buildings in the world and even boasted electricity and telephones prior to the White House in Washington D.C. The palace also featured indoor plumbing, and large galas were thrown to welcome visiting dignitaries to the modern and sovereign Kingdom of Hawaii. Since King Kalakaua was the world’s first monarch to circumnavigate the globe, the palace was also adorned with decorations and memorabilia acquired during his travels around the world.
In the overthrow of 1893, however, possession of the palace was transferred to Sanford Dole and a group of Western businessmen who formed the Republic of Hawaii. During this time, Queen Liliuokalani was sentenced to house arrest in an upstairs bedroom of the palace, and despite the fact that she firmly believed the United States would grant power back to the monarchy, the start of the Spanish-American war resulted in Hawaii being acquired as a territory, and the palace (and the Kingdom), has remained in American hands ever since.
Iolani Palace today is an enduring symbol of the Hawaiian monarchy and the greatest physical representation of the overthrown Kingdom. The palace is now a popular visitor attraction which is open from Monday through Saturday, and hour-long tours are offered which detail the history of the royal palace.