Budatin castle is a part of Žilina’s historical and architectural heritage. It was built on the confluence of the Vah and Kysaca rivers, on a trade road junction as a look-out tower and castle. The castle’s oldest part is the cylindrical four-floor tower which was most likely built in the 13th century as it is first mentioned in 1323. The tower is 20m high by 12m wide and the walls are almost 2m thick in some parts. The castle’s first owners were probably the Balasas family, who had built the tower. At the beginning of the 14th century it belonged to Matús Csák of Trenčin . At this time the tower was reinforced and a single-winged, two-floored palace was added. Matús Csák owned the castle until his death in 1321. The castle was looked after by a royal castellan (caretaker) named Elias, the son of Matús from Sulov. Thereafter it was owned by Mikulas and Stefan, the sons of Posva, the royal governors (župani) of Strečno castle and its region. At the end of the 14th Century Budatin was owned by the palatine Sudivoj of Ostroroh. Apart from its role as a watch tower, the castle also fulfilled an important economic position as merchants heading for Poland would have to pay a toll at Budatin to pass through. The castle remained royal property until the mid 15th Century. In 1424 King Zigmund of Luxemburg presented the castle to his wife, Barbara. During the Hussite wars the castle was seriously damaged and in 1429 it was classed as derelict. Reconstruction was led by Juraj of Hatne, who acquired it from King Zigmund as a reward for his loyalty during the wars. It was during this time that a two-floored palace was added on the north side and subsequently both palaces were joined together.
The original purpose of Budatin acting as a toll gate had already ceased to be. After Rafael of Hatne’s death, his wife married Gašpar Suňog of Jasenica and it was to him that the castle was bestowed upon by the King for loyalty. The Suňog family owned castle until 1798. During this period the castle was renovated dramatically. Mention of the renaissance reconstruction dates from 1551 and is accompanied by the Latin: ‘Ignis et ars supleant nature defectum’ (Fire and art replace the flaws of nature). This inscription can be seen on the fireplace of the first floor. The Budatin branch of the Suňog family died out with Ladislav Suňog’s death in 1727. After that the castle was passed o to Andrej Suňog of the Silesian branch. He had a renaissance chapel built in the north-western part of the castle. In the place of the former western fortifications, a baroque-classicistic palace was built. The palace façade was adorned with various ornaments (rizalty) and faces the park which was also styled according to the classical period of antiquity. During this time several annexes were added east of the castle but all that remains today is Zámocká ulička (Castle Street). Jan Suňog’s son was the last male heir of the Silesian branch and by 1798 the entire Suňog family had died out. His only daughter, Josephine, inherited the Budatin estate and after marrying Count Anon Caki, Budatin castle passed to the Caki family who had possession of it until 1945. Under the Caki family’s possession, the castle underwent further reconstruction. The northern part of the fortification was replaced by a single-story annex with a chapel. During this reconstruction the original entrance area of the inner courtyard was retained but was covered. After the death of Stefan Caki, the castle was passed on to his oldest son, Ladislav. During the revolutionary years (1848-1849) and on 10th January 1849 it was almost completely burnt down. Reconstruction work started in 1870 but neither the original ground nor the building’s exterior was recreated. The west wing was also heavily destroyed by the fire and was not rebuilt. Near the castle’s core a new building (in the style of classical antiquity) was added to serve economic purposes. After the death of Ladislav Caki, the castle was inherited by her sisters, Irma and Charlotte. After their deaths, the castle was passed to Gejza, Albin and Julius Caki, each of them inheriting a third and finally in 1945 Gajza Caki became the sole owner.
In the early 1900s the castle was in disarray and so Gajza Caki initiated further reconstruction which began in 1920 and lasted two years. The plans for reconstruction were designed by Viennese architect, Lux, and the project was undertaken by a builder named Murko. The reconstruction dramatically changed Budatin’s appearance. In the burnt-out south-east wing only the floor was retained but it was converted into a terrace. Underneath the terrace, an artificial cave with a statue of a woman was created and was used at times as a storeroom. A lot of interior changes were also made. The dining hall had a carved wooden ceiling and wooden panelling installed. From 1945, Budatin castle exchanged the hands of many owners but in 1956 changes were made to convert it into the Považské Museum of Žilina. After reconstruction had finished, it became the permanent residence of several exhibitions. These include ancient archaeological findings from the north-western territories of Slovakia, Burghers’ exhibition of domestic interiors, Tinkers’ art exhibition and a special collection of 18th and 19th century art. The Tinkers’ art collection is unique, it is one of a kind in presenting Slovak art, however due to inadequate space and further necessity to reconstruct the Castle the exhibitions were eventually closed. Presently the Castle remains under-construction but will be opened upon completion for cultural purposes once again.