Street number

The red street number is called číslo domu or číslo budovy ("house number" or "building number" – the Slovaks often use the word dom for both "house" and "building"), sometimes also orientačné číslo.

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"Lot-and-block"

The black "lot-and-block" number, entered in the deeds registry, is called súpisné číslo, traditionally also popisné číslo and, in the more distant past, konskripčné číslo. Broadly speaking (see the right side bar), the Slovaks ignore the "lot-and-block" numbers for most practical purposes, they do not refer to them in order to identify an address.

Numbered past

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The uncommon block of numbers on one structure in Stará Ľubovňa reflects the former fusion of two buildings with their black "lot-and-block" numbers, and more quaintly, the resulting two different red street numbers for the corner structure, each on one of the two streets that meet there.

As the dramatically divergent numbers of the same building show, numbering in Slovak and Central European ancient, randomly grown towns and villages has nothing to do with the U.S. practice of seeing municipalities and even rural roads as designed on a grid and counting blocks.

Small villages

The Slovaks normally use street numbers to identify addresses, but not all houses are on named streets in small localities. In those instances, the "lot-and-block" number may serve as the address of the given building.

Some villages assign their own red number (orientačné číslo), different from the "lot-and-block" number, to each building not located on a named street, in which case the red orientačné číslo is the address.

The Empress

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... determined to put to use the Kingdom's crown (bright, on the left, two-barred cross).

An odd number

An English traveler noted in Piešťany in 1835 that every little house had a sign over the door. He relayed a local's explanation that it was because the Kingdom was:

"... a free country and won’t allow the Emperor to number the houses; so, the visitors, instead of saying ‘I live at No. 10, or No. 20’ say ‘I live at the Blue Hussar, or the Golden Duck.'"

House numbers

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 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:

Jozef Kováč
Nová 17
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:

Jozef Kováč
123 45 Dolnovce 17