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With a cultural legacy defined by warriors and royalty, Hawaii continues to preserve and share the residences and retreats of these revered icons. Among the seven Hawaiian monarchs following Kamehameha the Great, King David Kalakaua dwelled in what is undeniably the most celebrated of these domains.
During the 19th century, “The Merry Monarch” and sibling successor Queen Liliuokalani entertained world leaders and dignitaries in the opulent Iolani Palace (IolaniPalace.org) that boasted the marvels of electrical lights and telephones even before The White House.
Less than 2 miles mauka (toward the mountains) is the 1848-built Queen Emma Summer Palace (DaughtersOfHawaii.org), where King Kamehameha IV and his wife, Emma, escaped Honolulu’s coastal heat with their son, Prince Albert.
Known in the Hawaiian language as Hanaiakamalama, the secluded Nuuanu residence that’s on the National Historic Registry displays Queen Emma’s baby grand piano, royal feather cloaks, kapa cloth artifacts and a royal cabinet gifted by Queen Victoria.
While not the home of official royalty, Shangri La (ShangriLaHawaii.org) is considered one of Hawaii’s most palatial private estates. Overlooking the Pacific and Diamond Head, the 5-acre retreat created in 1937 houses an extensive 2,500-piece collection of Islamic art that heiress and philanthropist Doris Duke assembled over six decades.
The 14,000-square-foot home-turned-museum incorporates ornate architectural features and richly decorated living areas reflective of Duke’s extensive travels to Morocco and Egypt.
Before or after a visit to Shangri La, visitors can extend the Mediterranean theme with a meal at nearby Olive Tree Cafe (4614 Kilauea Ave.; 808-737-0303) or Shaloha Pita (3133 Waialae Ave.; 808-744-4222). Also, at downtown Honolulu’s Kan Zaman (KanZamanHawaii.com), owners/chefs Kamal Jemmari and Youssef Dakroub merge Moroccan and Lebanese fare via hot and cold meze, lamb kebabs, chicken tajina and beef shawarma couscous. It will be a feast fit for royalty.