Slovaks - Settlements



Slovaks live in small hamlets or colonies, villages, towns, and cities. The hamlet or colony ( osada ) typically contains less than ten households of closely related people, usually with a common surname, which may also be the name of the Community. The village ( dedina ) can have upwards of 3,000 to 4,000 people, frequently including the inhabitants of the surrounding hamlets. A town ( mesto ) commonly has a population in excess of 5,000 and a city ( velkomesto ) many thousands more. The largest cities of Slovakia are Bratislava, the capital (417,100), and Kosice (222,200). Traditional Slovak homes in hamlets and villages were constructed of plastered-over mud bricks in western Slovakia or wood in the heavily forested regions of central and eastern Slovakia. Roofs were thatched or shingled. Typical peasant homes built in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries contain one room, or at most, two rooms: a kitchen that would also double as a bedroom, and a separate room that would serve as a bedroom by night and a room to entertain guests by day. A large oven would be accessed from the kitchen, while the body of the oven would extend into the second room where it would provide a warm surface for children to sleep on. Sometimes additional rooms were added linearly to this basic design to accommodate families of married sons or daughters and/or provide for the sheltering of livestock. Many hamlets still exhibit this traditional Slovak house, though most now have tile roofs. Villages in present-day Slovakia usually contain a jumble of varied house types, from the basic two-room plan of a detached home to the newer four- or six-unit two-story apartment houses. Cinder blocks and fired bricks have replaced mud bricks and wood as building materials, and indoor plumbing has been the norm for three decades even in rural areas. Stepwise migration, with people leaving hamlets and villages for larger communities (cities), is ongoing throughout Slovakia. In some regions, nearly 10 percent of the hamlets have been abandoned over the past fifteen years.

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