State Capitol / 'Iolani Palace

Hawaii State Capitol

While Downtown Honolulu is well known for places like Aloha Tower Marketplace (itself a historic landmark), the cruise ship docks, Federal buildings and business offices, there’s actually more to see around the area from a historical perspective. Honolulu is, after all, the city where kings and queens of old lived. Most of the historical sites we’ll be exploring through this post are just along Punchbowl Street, between South Beretania and Queen Streets. There are of course, many other historical sites within and beyond Downtown Honolulu, but that’s for another post. For starters, There’s the Hawaii State Capitol, the official capitol building of the State of Hawaii. The Governor’s office is located here, along with the legislative branch of the State government. This building was commissioned and dedicated by John A. Burns, Hawaii’s second Governor and was opened on March 15th. Just behind the State Capitol is ‘Iolani Palace, the only royal palace located in the United States. The name ‘Iolani literally means “royal hawk,” and was named as such by King Kamehameha V after his brother Kamehameha IV’s given names (Alexander Liholiho Keawenui ‘Iolani). King Kalakaua and years later, Queen Lili’uokalani ruled from this palace, and was the official residence of the following monarchs:

  • Kamehameha IV
  • Kamehameha V
  • Lunalilo
  • Kalakaua

The palace also served as the capitol building for the State of Hawaii until it was replaced by the current Capitol Building located just behind it. At present, the palace is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a National Historic Landmark. It is open to the public for guided tours since the completion of its restoration in 1978. For more information, visit ‘Iolani Palace’s website. On our next post, we’ll explore the other historic sites along this side of Downtown Honolulu. We’ll take a look at the King Kamehameha Statue (another Red Line stop), Ali’iolani Hale, Kawaiahaʻo Church, Mission Houses Musem and many more!

Available Lines and Schedules:

Red Line:

  • Previous Stop: Punchbowl Cemetery (no disembarking)
  • First Trolley Stop: 9:17 AM
  • Last Trolley Stop: 5:17 PM
  • Next Stop: Izumo Taishakyo Shrine

Stop Location Map:


Places of Interest:

Father Damien StatueFather Damien Statue

The Father Damien statue is the centerpiece at the entrance of the Hawai’i State Capitol. This landmark memorializes the famous Hawai’i Catholic Church priest from Belgium who sacrificed his life for the lepers of the island of Moloka’i. Cast in bronze, Damien is depicted in his later years after being diagnosed himself with leprosy. In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI canonized Father Damien.