All of the Must-See Buildings and Sculptures in Hawaii

While Hawaii is known for its tropical climate, volcanoes, and beautiful beaches, the group of islands is also home to some magnificent architecture and sculptures.

If you’re planning a trip to The Aloha State, here are the must-see buildings and sculptures you don’t want to miss!

Hawaii State Capitol Building

This unique structure is both a reflection of the US capitol and elements symbolic of Hawaii. Constructed of reinforced concrete and structural steel, the building is surrounded by a reflecting pool, symbolizing Hawaii’s island coming out of the ocean.

The conical shape of the koa wood paneled legislative chamber is symbolic of the volcanoes that created the islands. Meanwhile, the 40 pillars around the building are representative of the palm trees dotting the Hawaiian Islands.

This building is a must see that is often overlooked!

Pearl Harbor National Memorial

Accessible only by boat, this memorial commemorates the events of December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the 2,400 Americans killed that day.

The actual memorial straddles the sunken hull of one of the battleships attacked on that day. This memorial is a national historic landmark and is one of the most visited destinations on Oahu.

As part of the National Park Service, the visitor’s center also offers an audio tour and theater with a film teaching about the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Mauna ‘Ala (Royal Mausoleum of Hawaii)

This final resting place for two of the royal families of Hawaii is one of the few examples of Gothic Revival architecture in the state.

The building is designed in the shape of a Latin cross. It is constructed with a steep gable roof that was once English slate but was replaced with bronzed and gilded crosses.

This building is part of the Division of State Parks and is uniquely different from other buildings you will find on the island.

Makua and Kila Statue

This statue is derived from a children’s book on a surfer that develops a unique friendship with a Hawaiian monk seal.

It is a story that imbibes the values of love and respect that Hawaiians are known for. Crafted from bronze, the statue depicts Makua, the young surfer while he enjoys a special moment with Kila, his monk seal friend.

This statue is a life-size statue that is popular amongst locals and tourists alike.

Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture, & Design

This Islamic-style mansion (former home of Doris Duke), completed in 1938, is home to a museum dedicated to Islamic art and design.

The museum offers numerous public tours and programs, as well as exhibitions and both digital and educational initiatives.

Its architecture pulls in elements from numerous Middle Eastern and Asian countries.

True to Islamic style, the mansion is filled with marble risers comprised of in-laid geometric motifs of various colors of marble, such as this, wooden ceilings, stained-glass windows, and more.

King Kamehameha Statue

While there are several statues of King Kamehameha I around Hawaii, the most recognizable one stands in front of Aliiolani Hale, home to the Hawaiian State Supreme Court.

King Kamehameha I is the founder and first King of Hawaii, uniting the islands into a single royal kingdom in the early 1800s.

The statue was crafted in Florence and shipped to Hawaii. The statue is made of bronze and is one of the most photographed landmarks in the island state.

Every year on Kamehameha Day, the statue is draped with flower lei to celebrate Hawaii’s first King.

‘Iolani Palace

Once the royal residence of Hawaiian Kings and Queens, ‘Iolani Palace is constructed of brick with a concrete facing. What makes this building unique is that it boasts architectural elements that are not found elsewhere in the world, a style known as American Florentine.

Its interiors are decorated in ornamental plaster, with a grand hall featuring a staircase crafted from koa wood.

Another notable feature of the palace is that it was the first building in Hawaii to have electric lights installed and a telephone (even before the White House had them!).

Liljestrand House

The Liljestrand House is perhaps the most popular domestic project of Vladimir Ossipoff.

The house, overlooking Honolulu, is a true depiction of tropical modernism. His design takes into account the variable weather conditions as well as the topography.

Constructed in a tiered format, it is designed to shelter the home from showers and draw in the cool breeze. It has been preserved/restored making you feel as though you are taking a step back in time when you enter the home.

Tours are available to the public to view the home that is listed on both the Hawaii State and US National Registers of Historic Places.

Brothers in Valor Memorial

This sculpture is a special memorial to honor the four different regiments comprised entirely of Japanese-Americans who fought for the US in World War II.

One of these regiments included is the 100th Infantry Battalion, the ‘Purple Heart Battalion.’ This was the first combat unit in the US Army comprised of Hawaii-born Japanese Americans.

Other regiments honored include the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, and the 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion.

This memorial was created by a veteran of the 442nd and is constructed of black marble.

These buildings and sculptures are scattered across the Hawaiian Islands, but each lends a bit of character to its surroundings, calling upon both its history and its symbolism. Be sure to have your camera ready. These buildings and sculptures deserve just as much attention as the volcanoes and the beaches.

Jaspreet Kaur

An engineer by profession, blogger by choice and traveler by passion defines me best.

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