Veľké Slemence

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Veľké Slemence
Veľké Slemence.JPG
Country Slovakia
Region Košice
District Michalovce
Elevation 106 m (348 ft)
Coordinates 48°30′34″N 22°08′49″E / 48.50944°N 22.14694°E / 48.50944; 22.14694Coordinates: 48°30′34″N 22°08′49″E / 48.50944°N 22.14694°E / 48.50944; 22.14694
Area 9.97 km2 (4 sq mi)
Population 598 (2004-12-31)
Density 60/km2 (155/sq mi)
First mentioned 1332
Postal code 076 77
Car plate MI
Location of Veľké Slemence in Slovakia
Location of Veľké Slemence in Slovakia
Location of Veľké Slemence in the Košice Region
Location of Veľké Slemence in the Košice Region
Statistics: MOŠ/MIS

Veľké Slemence (Hungarian: Nagyszelmenc) is a village and municipality in Michalovce District in the Košice Region of easteastern Slovakia.


The border as seen from Veľké Slemence pre 2003

In historical records the village was first mentioned in 1332. It was a single village named Szelmenc (between 1919–1938 it was called Slemence) before 1945. From 1919 until 1945, Szelmenc bore the same history as Subcarpathia. It was first ceded to Czechoslovakia in 1919, then after the First Vienna Award in 1938 it returned to the Kingdom of Hungary, then back, then, after the Soviet-Czechoslovak Treaty in 1945 was partially ceded to the Soviet Union along with Subcarpathia. The new border between the two states run through Szelmenc. The town was divided between Slovakia (2/3) and Ukraine (1/3) by cutting it into two parts - Veľké Slemence became a part of Slovakia and Mali Selmentsi (Малі Селменці) a part of Ukraine.

In 1946, a house which lay exactly on the border was demolished with all the other objects in the way, and a 6 meter high palisade wall with watch towers and border patrolling were installed. For the next 60 years crossing between the two parts was prohibited.[1] To meet with relatives on the other side, locals had to first travel 13 km to Uzhgorod for visas to Czechoslovakia. If their visa application, which took at least two weeks, was successful, they would travel 80 km south to the nearest border crossing, then 80 km back, and return the same way. Previously 3–500 meters and a half day, the trip became at least 160–200 km long for one way only and took at least a month to organize. Those, who tried to shout over from one side to the other were penalized on both parts. This resulted in discussing, sending messages, news in form of songs, sung loud near the border.

"Egy Szelmencből lett a kettő, egyesítse a Teremető
Áldjon Isten békességgel, tartson egybe reménységgel
Mi reményünk megmarad, összeforr mi szétszakadt
Két Szelmencnek kapuszárnya, falvainkat egybezárja"

(the poem on the Mali Selmeci side of the Szekely gate)

In 2003, a Székely gate (székelykapu) was installed on the border, one half of it being in the Slovak, while the other half being on the Ukrainian part of the border, with a short poem on the Mali Selmentsi part. The poem can be roughly translated as "From one Szelmenc became two, should be unified by the Creator, God bless with peace and keep us together, our hope remains, and will join together what torn apart, gate wings of the two Szelmec closes our villages together".

After the fall of communism, and more than a decade of fights with bureaucracy and negligence,[2] a border checkpoint for pedestrians and cyclists was established in 2005 on the street which was divided. It was opened on December 23, 2005 ending 61 years of division. On January 1, 2008 Slovakia joined the Schengen Agreement, resulting in tightening of the crossing between the two Szelmences once again.[3] The residents of Mali Selmentsi were again forced to travel to Uzhgorod for visas to Slovakia.

The two parts has a total population of about 840 people, almost exclusively (+95%) ethnic Hungarians, with a few Romani in and around the village(s).

The elderly citizens of the two Szelmences were once citizens of Austria-Hungary, Czechoslovakia, the Kingdom of Hungary, and the Soviet Union, and now are the citizens of Slovakia (and thus the European Union) and Ukraine, while most of them have never left the village, where they were born.


The village lies at an altitude of 106 metres and covers an area of 9.972 km². The municipality has a population of about 600 inhabitants.


The village has a football pitch.


  • Zelei, Miklós: A kettézárt falu. Ister Kiadó, Budapest, 2000.


  1. ^ Lyman, Rick (10 August 2015). "A Ukrainian Border Town Once Fenced by Soviets Blossoms Into a Shopper’s Paradise". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ Chapman, Carolyn (July 2004). "Slovak Ambassador Lobbies for Divided Village". The Washington Diplomat. Archived from the original on 3 October 2011. 
  3. ^ Uhríková, Dominika (11 February 2008). "Leaving the east behind". The Slovak Spectator.