Monday, April 21, 2014

Iolani Palace revisited

I've had people ask me about what to do when they are in Hawaii. I last wrote about Iolani Palace in January of 2011. For me there was no question in my mind that this building in downtown Honolulu should be the first item that I would recommend to people. 

Iolani Palace with flags
Iolani Palace was constructed starting on December 31, 1879 when the cornerstone was laid and had residents, King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani move into the palace in December 1882.  For a few short years, the palace was the heart of the Hawaiian monarchy until on January 17, 1893, Kalakaua's successor, Queen Liliuokalani, while at the end of a bayonet was pointed at her, was forced to sign over the powers of her constitutional monarchy rather than risk the lives of her people.

While being built, King Kalakaua had many technical marvels of the day incorporated into the structure.  Indoor plumbing, gas lights which were later replaced with electric bulbs and the recently invented telephone were amenities available to the King, Queen and their guests.  Many parties and celebrations were held on the palace grounds often lasting until the wee hours of the morning.

After the overthrow, the contents of the palace were thrown out, given away or sold.  The palace served many functions with the main function of acting as the government capital building until 1969 when the government moved into the new state capital building built just mauka  (towards the mountain) of the palace.  The Friends of Iolani Palace took over as care takers of the palace and palace grounds and have worked hard and diligently to restore the palace to its former glory.

Tours are available daily and throughout the year special events take place at the palace or own palace grounds.  As part of the guided tours the docents will lead you through the rooms of the first and second floor of the palace and then after you remove the protective booties you had put on before the tour began, you will be led to the basement galleries.  As of this writing, some of the crown jewels for the Kingdom of Hawaii are on display in the first floor throne room.  In the basement galleries are other royal jewelry pieces including the pin that Queen Liliuokalani wore to Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee made of diamonds studding a butterfly design whose wings would actually move and flap gently.  Royal Orders from King Kalakaua’s trip around the globe, the first royal monarch to ever do so, are displayed for visitors to examine.  The orders giving recognition that the Kingdom of Hawaii was truly something, signifying that the political leaders around the world were friends and friendly with the King and Queen of Hawaii.
Iolani Palace Dining Room 
For tour and special event information check out for specifics of hours and costs.  If you have a chance to visit the palace at the end of December in the evening, it is highly recommended by myself  The tour is set up to commemorate the birthday of Queen Kapiolani who was born on December 31, 1834. It’s very rare to be able to visit the palace at night with the interior lighting being used as well as people dressed in period costumes. With the environment set, you can really picture yourself and feel like you’ve been invited to a soiree given by Hawaiian Royalty.