The Istana Nurul Iman palace (Jawi: ايستان نورول ايمان) is the official residence of the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, and the seat of the Brunei government. The palace is located on a leafy, riverside sprawl of hills on the banks of the Brunei River, a few kilometers south of Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei's capital.
The name "Istana Nurul Iman" is taken from Persian Astane and Arabic Nur-ol Imaan and means Palace of the Light of Faith. It was designed by Filipino architect Leandro V. Locsin, who utilized the architectural motif of golden domes and vaulted roofs to echo Brunei's Islamic and Malay influences. The interior of the palace was designed by Khuan Chew, Design Principal of KCA International, whose other works include the Burj Al Arab in Dubai. Construction was handled by Ayala International, a Filipino construction firm, and completed in 1984 at a total cost of around $1.4 Billion USD.
Upon completion, Istana Nurul Iman, became the largest residential palace in the World
and the largest single family residence ever built.
The palace contains 1,788 rooms, which includes 257 bathrooms, a banquet hall that can be expanded to accommodate up to 5,000 guests, a mosque accommodating 1,500 people. The palace also includes a 110-car garage, an air conditioned stable for the Sultan's 200 polo ponies, and 5 swimming pools. In total, Istana Nurul Iman contains 2,152,782 square feet (200,000 m²) of floorspace.
Because of its massive size, Istana Nurul Iman makes use of 564 chandeliers, 51,000 light bulbs, 44 stairwells, and 18 elevators.
The Sultan takes his official audiences at the palace. The palace is also used for all the State functions of the government of Brunei. In addition, the palace houses the prime minister's office, and serves as the seat of the Brunei government.
In addition to Audience and State Rooms, there is a Throne Chamber used for various formal occasions such as the proclamation of the Crown Prince and the annual Birthday Investiture.
However, in keeping with its primary use as the Sultan’s personal residence, the palace is home to the Sultan’s massive car collection, which includes custom-made Ferraris and Bentleys as well as 165 Rolls Royces.
The palace is not open to the public except on the annual Islamic celebration of Hari Raya Aidilfitri (the festival at the end of the Muslim fasting month) when the palace receives about 110,000 visitors over a three-day period where the guests receive gifts of food as well as green packets containing money for young children. The palace is also open to Muslims during 10 days of the Ramadhan period for the Bertedarus and Terawih prayer gathering.