It was built in the traditional Minangkabau Rumah Gadang vernacular architectural style. The palace has three stories with 72 pillars and the typical Rumah gadang gonjong, a horn-like curved roof made from 26 tons of black ijuk aren palm fibers.
Since the Pagaruyung Kingdom was disbanded in 1833, no king or royal family resides in the palace today. The palace has been destroyed by fire several times, in 1804, 1966 and 2007. It has been rebuilt again and today functions as a museum and popular tourist attraction.