The historic palaces, pavilions and kiosks built in Istanbul as administrative centres, as permanent or summer residences for the sultans, or as temporary residences for their guests are today open to the public as museum-palaces. Known collectively as the National Palaces, they are the first “museum-palaces” in Türkiye. These royal buildings are preserved with their original furnishings and so illustrate the culture and living style of the Ottoman period. 

On 3 March 1924, four months after the proclamation of the Turkish Republic, the caliphate was abolished by Act 431 and ownership of the palaces and all other real estate belonging to the sultan, together with their furnishings, transferred to the nation under Articles 8, 9 and 10 of the same act. According to a resolution passed by the Council of Ministers on 18 January 1925, the management and preservation of Dolmabahçe Palace and Beylerbeyi Palace, to be known as the National Palaces, were entrusted to a department to be established for this purpose called the Department of National Palaces.

That same year management of the Yıldız Chalet, Aynalıkavak and Küçüksu pavilions (small palaces designed for temporary residence), followed in 1930 by the Yalova Atatürk Mansions, in 1966 by Ihlamur Pavilion and in 1981 by the Maslak Pavilions was also transferred to this department. In 1983, under Act 2919 (the Grand National Assembly General Secretariat Organisation Act), the National Palaces Department was raised in status to a directorate and in this capacity was given management of the Atatürk Marine Mansion in Florya in 1988, the Yıldız Tile and Porcelain Factory and Hereke Carpet and Silk Fabric Weaving Factory in 1995, and Beykoz Pavilion in 1999. 

In 2011 the status of the Department of National Palaces was changed to that of a deputy general secretariat under Act 6253 (the Grand National Assembly Directorate Administrative Organisation Act). Following a resolution published in Official Gazette number 30480 dated 16 July 2018, the department was attached to the Presidential Office and the Directorate of National Palaces Administration was established. 

After the Apartment of the Heir Apparent was transferred to the National Palaces in 2014, the National Palaces Museum of Painting was established here and opened to the public on 22 March 2014.

Abraham Paşa Park in Beykoz, Ankara Palas Hotel in Ankara and Yıldız Palace in Istanbul were transferred to the Directorate of National Palaces Administration in 2018, followed by Topkapı Palace on 6 September 2019. 

Specialist architects and restorators have been implementing restoration programmes at the museum-palaces since 1984, to ensure that these palaces, pavilions and kiosks are passed on to future generations in their original state. 

All the furnishings and fittings belonging to these buildings and the objects used by their inhabitants are important part of our cultural heritage and are inventoried as the National Palaces Collection. These items are divided into sections according to type, examined by experts and recorded using contemporary methods. Restoration and conservation works are carried out by experienced and trained personnel at the National Palaces Restoration and Conservation Studios.

The expertly landscaped grounds, cafés and gift shops at palaces, pavilions, kiosks and factories attached to the National Palaces enhance the experience of local and foreign visitors. Researchers and experts employed by the department publish academic journals, books and catalogues, brochures and guide books for vistors; and organise exhibitions, symposiums, conferences and other cultural events relating to the history of the buildings where they are held. 

The National Palaces Specialist Library of books that focus mainly on art, history and architecture, provides services to researchers within and outside the department.