Q: Why do houses have two numbers?
Houses in Slovakia usually display both their street number and a number parallel to the American lot-and-block number from the deeds registry. The red street numbers are assigned in arithmetic progression, odd on one side, even on the other, but the U.S. concept of blocks does not exist in Central Europe. Street numbers may be skipped if a building was torn down, or merged if a newer building replaced two and more older ones.
The black "lot-and-block" numbers are more permanent than the former ones, but unlike the American lot-and-block numbers, the Slovak numbers may identify only the building, not necessarily the whole land lot. Historically and especially in villages with unnamed streets, each next lot-and-block number was often assigned in a temporal sequence, as and wherever a new house was built, not according to any particular spatial division.
The law (221/1996) requires that both numbers be displayed on each building. The "lot-and-block" number plate is provided by the municipality, the owner of the building must obtain the street number plate, if applicable, and cover the cost of the attachment and maintenance of both number plates.
Maria Theresa's legacy
The "lot-and-block" numbers were gradually introduced at the orders of Empress Maria Theresa beginning in 1767, their original German name was Konskriptionsnummer. Most have been renumbered several times since the 18th century, there is no automatic continuity between older and newer numbers. The local noblemen tried to sabotage the process initially. They saw it, rightly, as part of Maria Theresa's efforts to integrate the Kingdom of Hungary, the Slovaks' home country, more firmly in her Austrian Empire and to start taxing the nobility. The drive began with the Imperial and Royal Court sending out officials to compile a sound registry of the Kingdom's real estate, the urbarium. The noblemen prevailed through other means for a long time, their taxation did not materialize until the mid-19th century.
Black numbers today
The Slovak "lot-and-block" number is now issued sequentially along with each construction permit, it is not linked to the location of the building on a street or in a municipality. If nearby buildings carry similar black "lot-and-block" numbers, it is a result of a historical renumbering of the buildings in the municipality or of their construction permits being issued close to each other.
For historical reasons, the red house numbers, too, are often not distributed according to the arithmetic progression in the absence of named streets in small villages (see the right sidebar).
Address and number
The Slovaks place the street number after the name of the street, and the zip code (grouped xxx xx) before the name of the locality:
123 45 Dolnovce
When the house is not on a named street, which can happen in a small village, the house number goes after the name of the locality:
123 45 Dolnovce 17