The imposing palace on the north bank across the river from the Waterfront was laid out in the style of an English manor house. It is the third and last residence built by the Brooke Rajahs and was occupied by the reigning Rajah until the Japanese Occupation in 1941. Today, Astana Kuching is the official residence of the Governor of Sarawak, and therefore not open to visitors. However, during Hari Raya (Aid-Fitr) celebration, the gate will be open to welcome visitors in the best tradition of Malaysia Open House practice.
Charles Brooke (the second “White Rajah” of Sarawak) built Astana Kuching in 1870 as a bridal gift to his wife, Margaret Alice Lili de Windt. The Astana has occupied a significant place in the history of Sarawak; it was the venue for the various meetings of the General Council from 1873 to 1937.