History and museums
The Royal Palace of the Kingdom of Tonga is located in the northwest of the capital, Nukuʻalofa, close to the Pacific Ocean. The wooden Palace, which was built in 1867, is the official residence of the King of Tonga. Although the Palace is not open to the public, it is easily visible from the waterfront.
In line with the deference the Tongans have for the Royal Family, poets almost never refer to the palace (pālasi) by name, but use heliaki or allegoric references like: Fanga-tapu ("sacred beach", the stretch of shoreline fronting the building), Loto-ʻā ("inside the fence"), ʻĀ-maka ("stone fence"), Hangai Tokelau ("north wind against", the name of a tree near the kitchen), and so forth.
The old, metre-high stone fence was so sacred to the king that none would dare sit on it, let alone to cross it. However, after 1990, King Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV had a 3-metre high grid fence erected. After 2000, some people broke through the gates with trucks, prompting the installation of iron bars to secure the gates.
The king and Royal Family have several more palaces to choose from. There is a palace in Fuaʻamotu, there is Kauvai near Longoteme, Liukava ("revolution") in Kolovai, and both Tufumāhina and Vila (villa) between Koloua and Pea. The vila was built by Crown Prince Tupoutoʻa in the 1990s, who remained living there upon his accession as King George Tupou V, far away from any neighbours. Since then, the palace was largely unused.
However, in 2010 major renovations were conducted. A new fence was erected and new wings were added, to house the Tongan national archives on one side and the privy council offices on the other side. It is expected that the king will also have royal audiences there again, instead of the now deserted buildings of the former British High Commission.
There is Tauʻakipulu palace on Lifuka in Haʻapai, Fangatongo ("mangrove beach") near Talau on Vavaʻu, and there are residences in Niuafoʻou and Niuatoputapu. The palace of ʻEua is just north of the harbour in Taʻanga. In the 1980s, Taufa'ahau Tupou IV had a new palace built on a mountaintop near Houma, but it was unused and by around 1990 only the artistically made bathtub remained, overgrown by weeds, disappearing sometime around 2000.
Media related to Royal Palace, Tonga at Wikimedia Commons