Tarabya Cultural Academy was inaugurated on 13 October 2011 in the presence of the then German and Turkish foreign ministers, Guido Westerwelle and Ahmet Davutoğlu. The keynote speakers, Cornelia Pieper (Minister of State in the Foreign Office) and Kemal Fahir Genç (Deputy State Secretary in the Ministry of Culture), expressed their hope that the Cultural Academy would contribute to the positive development of cultural relations between Turkey and Germany. Other speakers at the ceremony included the President of the Goethe-Institut Klaus-Dieter Lehmann and the Bundestag members Petra Merkel (SPD) and Claudia Roth (Bündnis 90/The Greens). A cultural program organized by the Goethe Institute and a speech by the writer and President of the German Academy for Language and Poetry, Klaus Reichert, rounded off the festive evening.

The first recipients of residencies at the freshly inaugurated Academy were the documentary filmmaker Martina Priessner and the playwright Marianna Salzmann in September 2012. Since then, over 150 residents (as of March 2021) have resided and worked at Tarabya.