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Bestpraguedoors / Pražské prahy

Why do houses in Prague have two orientational numbers?

If you have been in Prague, surely you see a blue and a red number on every house. In Central and Eastern Europe, with some exceptions, houses are typically numbered using the “boustrophedon” system – a type of bidirectional text. Let’s to try clear this details about Prague architecture, its buildings, its doors.

The house number codification in Prague is very original and similar to all other cities of Czech Republic. The plaques can have different colors, but their position should be consistent. The graphic codification and regulation are always an immutable character of each entrances and gates. 

Every door has a the red and blue plate where is described the administrative and geographic area. The typeface is usually sans-serif. Prague has 22 municipal areas: each of them includes different districts. As we get further from the centre, the numbers of the districts get higher.

For example, the Municipality of Prague 1 includes Staré Město, Hradčany, Malá Strana, Josefov and part of Nové Město; Prague 2 includes part Vinohrady, part of Nové Město and part of Nusle.

Wikipedia: Districts_of_Prague ]

Prague Subdivisions

The assignment of descriptive orientation or registration numbers of houses for all cadastral territories of Prague is performed by the Trade and Civil Administration Department of the City of Prague (MHMP • on the basis of a call for the assignment of a descriptive or registration number submitted by the relevant building authority.

But the history of house numbering is much older!


From 14th to end of 18th century Prague was divided into towns like Old Town, New Town, Lesser Town and Castle area.

The purpose of the numbering was generally to determine the distribution of property ownership in the city, rather than for the purpose of organization. In the 18th century the first street numbering schemes were applied across Europe. Paris was the first city where suburbs were numbered in the 1720. After that comes Prague although it was for political reasons: the houses in the Jewish quarter in the city of Prague in the Austrian Empire were numbered in the same decade to aid the authorities in the conscription of the Jews. Then from 1802 we get the centralised numbering.

After 1810’s all cities of Europe developed an own house numbering codification, but due to the gradual development of house numbering and street addressing schemes, reform efforts occur periodically.

Nowdays Prague Houses still have two numbers on their gates.

🔴 The red number is called číslo popisné (descriptive number) witnesses the origin of the building. These numbers were given to buildings according to the time of their creation. there is only one building with that in a given area. Since descriptive numbers can be fairly large and since they’re generally assigned based on age (newer houses have higher numbers), they’re hard to use for navigation, which is where the second number comes in.

🔵 The second number is poštovní orientační číslo, a common “postal direction number” (for example Staroměstské Náměstí, 1 / Old Time Square, 1) introduced from 1868.  The purpose of the blue plate was to identify the number of the building within the same street. From 1869 it meant that as the numbers are in order, finding the building was simple using the blue plate.

For the villages located by the road, it was important where the nobility lived. The numbering usually began with the first house on the right from the direction the nobility came from, then returned on the opposite side.

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