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I'm traveling to Prague and I noticed that every street has double addresses, one red and another blue. What's the story behind that?

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    Related to What do the additional numbers on the side of houses in Rome stand for? which is about Rome but Prague is mentioned in the comments. – Greg Hewgill Jul 4 '17 at 20:38
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    Although I'm glad this is here, because I find it interesting, if I were the one noticing it, I would have asked someone who lives there. – WGroleau Jul 4 '17 at 20:50
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    ...you should also check out slovakia... we are cool too... ;( – technikfe Jul 5 '17 at 12:52
  • @GregHewgill, the difference is that, as far as I can tell, Czechia and Slovakia are the only two countries where both numbers are used together (always, if both exist—villages may not have the second) in official addresses. – Jan Hudec Jul 5 '17 at 20:34
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The upper number is the "descriptive number" (Czech: číslo popisné or č. p.) and is unique within each municipal part (in this case, Nové Město, Praha 1).

Since descriptive numbers can be fairly large and since they're generally assigned based on age (i.e. newer houses have higher numbers), they're hard to use for navigation, which is where the second number comes in.

The lower number is the "orientational number" (Czech: číslo orientační or č. o.). It's unique for each street or square (in this case, Wenceslas Square) and can be used for navigation, since houses in a row should have increasing numbers based on their position in the street/square. Also, for streets, houses on one side of the street have even orientational number, and odd on the other side.

The same system is used in other towns and cities in Czechia. The plaques can have different colors, but their position (the orientational number below the descriptive number) should be consistent.

See also the House numbering article on the English Wikipedia, section Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Side note: while the Czech names for these numbers are clear, I found different English translations. Some translate číslo popisné as "conscription number" and some translate číslo orientační as "reference number". I have chosen to go with the more literal translations.

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    "houses in a row should have increasing numbers based on their position in the street/square. Also, for streets, houses on one side of the street have even orientational number, and odd on the other side." this is common in other countries and a good thing to keep in mind when navigating streets. – Burhan Khalid Jul 5 '17 at 5:23
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    Czechia? I've never heard that before. – Andrew Leach Jul 5 '17 at 8:13
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    @Andrew Leach: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Name_of_the_Czech_Republic – Marianne013 Jul 5 '17 at 9:08
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    I never understood what those descriptive numbers were for, they appeared too random to have anything to do with addresses. Mighty fine answer. – Mast Jul 5 '17 at 11:13
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    @jf328 the Wikipedia article includes pronunciation: "the English equivalent "Czechia" /ˈtʃɛki.ə/" – mustaccio Jul 5 '17 at 15:44

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