Governor Mataio Kekuanaoa of Oʻahu built the original structure for his daughter Princess Victoria Kamamalu when he moved his capital from Lahaina to Honolulu in 1845. However, when it was purchased by Kamehameha III, it was renovated into a traditional aliʻi residence, in that the palace itself had no sleeping rooms. Kamehameha preferred to sleep in the grass huts he had built all around the palace grounds. The building was named Hale Aliʻi meaning (House of the Chiefs).
It wasn't until the reign of Kamehameha V that the name of the building was changed to "ʻIolani Palace," after his brother Alexander Liholiho Keawenui ʻIolani (meaning "royal hawk").
The Palace was the official residence of the monarch during the reigns of Kamehameha IV, Kamehameha V, Lunalilo, and the first part of Kalākaua's reign. The palace was simplistic in form and met its purpose at the time, however it was still the most elaborate structure in the region.
The palace that exists today is the second to sit on the palace grounds. The Iolani Palace in Honolulu, Hawaii was acquired by King David KalaKaua and Queen Liliuokalani around 1879. The palace was in horrible condition due to its turn of hands and lack of upkeep, so King David decided to raise the palace once again.
By 1882, the palace was completely restored, costing only $360,000. Even before the White House in Washington, the Lolani Palace had flushable toilets and telephones and even electrical wiring.
Iolani Palace also features architecture seen nowhere else in the world. This unique style is known as American Florentine, which simply means it reflects the history of the islands from antiquity through the kingdom era, from its territorial years to statehood and beyond
The architecture is truly ornate in orientation with Corinthian columns, ironwork, floral carpets, and crystal chandeliers in the throne room. The Grand Hall staircase was constructed out of Kamani and Koa woods and leads to the second floor.
Visitors to the newly renovated palace can take tours of the kings bedroom, the dining room, the blue meeting room, and the queens quarters(where Queen Kiliuokalani was imprisoned by the Native Hawaiians in 1895 after the second of the Wilcox rebellions).
In the basement is where the most spectacular of sites can be seen including the Hawaiian crown jewels, orders and decorations given by the monarchs, and magnificent regalia worn by the high chiefs of the islands.
The Palace was the seat of government until 1969 when a new state capital was built.
On April 30, 2008, ʻIolani Palace was overtaken by a group of native Hawaiians who called themselves the Hawaiian Kingdom Government to protest what they view as illegitimate rule by the United States. Mahealani Kahau, "head of state" of the group, said they do not recognize Hawaiʻi as a U.S. state, but would keep the occupation of the palace peaceful. "The Hawaiian Kingdom Government is here and it doesn't plan to leave. This is a continuity of the Hawaiian Kingdom of 1892 to today," Kahau said.
The Gates at Iolani Palace
The Royal Arms
The Dining Hall
The Throne Room
Photo Credits Iolani PalaceInterior shots of Palace