Walking through the cities of Hungary: sights and history

Hungary

Hungarian anthem

Hungary is one of the most favorite tourist countries of Central Europe. The country has a colorful colorful national culture, which thrives despite the active process of globalization. Infrastructure and economy of Hungary is on a very high level. The population, according to the 2017 census, is 9,797,561 and the territory is 93,030 km².

Tourists are attracted by the numerous balneotherapy resorts, ancient sights, excellent cuisine and a rich excursion program of Hungary. Moreover the country is considered one of the most inexpensive in Europe. The incredible diversity of life here and the entertainment for every taste allows you to easily organize an independent, family or romantic vacation.

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Video: Hungary

Parliament building in Budapest Lake Heviz – a popular Hungarian balneotherapy resort Budapest Small church in the village of Tsengersim

Cities of Hungary

Attractions and excursions

There are as many places of interest here as in Western or Northern Europe. The sights of Hungary are original, reflecting the turbulent centuries-old history, an unusual mixture of cultures and styles. The main and the biggest jewel of the state is the capital – the city of Budapest. Sometimes it is called a “museum in the open air” – so many places of interest to fans of history, art and just a picturesque cityscape.

Streets of Buda (Budapest Old Town)

The capital of Hungary is divided into two parts by the Danube, the ancient Buda is particularly beautiful, but there is also much to see in the more modern Pest. Not to mention the magnificent theaters of the city, the royal palace and the magnificent decoration of the parliament building. The Pearl of the Danube is beautiful at any time of the year, and its architecture is very different from the landscapes of other European cities, which immediately catches the eye of experienced travelers. Here you can see many temples of different religions, decorated with their inherent national flavor of their parishioners.

Also Budapest is often called a city-resort, because there are more than a hundred powerful sources of healing mineral waters of various compositions. In the capital, just as throughout the country, you can find unique resorts, spa centers, and sanatoria.

Szechenyi Bathery Gellert Bathery Kirai Castle Visegrad in Hungary

It is in Hungary where the largest lake in Europe is located, and it is called Lake Balaton. The water body stretches over 600 square kilometers, attracting many fans of water sports in summer and skaters in winter.

Once the Hungarians were a very warlike people, with enviable regularity waged redistribution of territory with neighboring states, so in most cities, large and not very big, you can see the stone bastions, castles, fortresses. Many of them were built during the Middle Ages or even earlier and have survived to this day in their authentic form.

The most famous is the town of Erger, which is a symbol of the victory over the Turks, under whose rule Hungary was more than 170 years. It was here that the decisive battle with the invading armies took place, after which the country began to revive its culture and economy. Despite the tumultuous historical vicissitudes that befell Erger, its Baroque-style quarters are wonderfully preserved.

Sunset on Lake Balaton

When you come to Hungary, at least once take a boat tour on the Danube or just take a tour boat ride. This will give you the opportunity to look at the cities, particularly Budapest, from an unusual angle. In general, there is a huge number of not only classic attractions – popular so-called alternative and thematic excursions.

Please note that when walking around the city should avoid communication with the gypsies and very carefully watch your bag – in public transport and on the streets often pickpockets. Otherwise the crime rate in the country is very low.

History

The basis of the full-fledged statehood in these territories was laid by Istvan I approximately 1000 years ago. Before that time the current Hungarian territories were the outskirts of the Roman Empire, bearing the name Panonia. Permanent population was small, but nomads and barbarians regularly visited here. Only by the end of the ninth century were the Magyars able to gain a proper foothold.

The siege of Buda, the Great Turkish War, 1686 r. Siege of Eger (1552), in which 2,000 Hungarians fought against 35,000-40000 Turks. The battle ended in victory for Hungary.

Blessed by the Roman Catholic Church, the flourishing monarchical system brought the country culturally and economically on par with the nations of Western Europe. However, as early as the 16th century, Turkish influence reached here and the days of prosperity came to an end. In the XVIII century the fragmented territories passed to Austria. In the second half of the nineteenth century Hungary gained more political power and the Austro-Hungarian Empire came into being.

Map of the collapse of Austria-Hungary in 1919-1920

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But this rather lucrative alliance was short-lived. The integrity of the Hungarian lands was significantly damaged by the two World Wars, as in both cases the country was on the losing side. In 1947, the Communists took over the state, which lasted until the collapse of the Soviet Union. Janos Kadar made a great contribution to the transformation of Hungary into the state it is today, focusing on the comprehensive development of the domestic consumer-oriented economy.

Viewpoint at the medieval castle Boldogkő

That is why, despite the formally socialist system, already in the seventies the country became one of the most free, wealthy and liberal in Eastern Europe. The end of the 80s was marked by the removal of the communists from power and the beginning of the integration with the Western countries. In 1999 the country joined NATO and in 2004 it became a member of the EU. Today Hungary is a prosperous European country with democratic structure that managed to save many national traditions, attracting travelers from all countries of the world.

Resorts and Climate

Most of the treatment and spa resorts in Hungary are situated near thermal springs of water and mineral mud. Unique balneological spas and baths have been renowned throughout Europe for recovery and rejuvenation effect for centuries. Specialised sanatoria are intended for treating the diseases of musculoskeletal apparatus, digestive system, metabolism, etc. There are also general recovery resorts.

Water park in Hajdúszoboszló

Among the most famous resorts is Hajdúszoboszló, whose mineral springs are called “hot gold” and are used to treat rheumatism. This quiet town has preserved a lot of historical and architectural attractions, so a visit to Hajdúszoboszló will be of interest to all tourists.

Debrecen is a large modern village, not much inferior to the capital in terms of population. The city’s visiting card is a large thermal water park Nadyerdő, which is also one of the most famous in the country balneological clinics.

Margaret is an island in the heart of Hungary’s capital, nestled in the waters of the majestic Danube. Its territory is quite small: 2.5 kilometers long and up to 500 meters wide. It is a national reserve, the arboretum of which contains many of the rarest native plants. Here reigns peace and quiet, the cleanest air in the capital, a unique microclimate.

Margaret Island Zima in the town of Sharoshpatak

Not far from the already mentioned Lake Balaton is another famous body of water called Heviz. This is a unique place, the water in which, thanks to the power of springs, is completely renewed in about a day. Hévíz is the largest warm-water lake in Europe: in winter the water is +26. In the winter it reaches +26°C and +28°C, and in the summer it reaches +33…+35°C. Because of that there is often a dense steam over the surface, which forms a special climate of these places.

In general, the annual temperature regime in Hungary is similar to Russia. Summers are hot, but winters are not frosty – the average of the coldest month is 0…-1°C. Spring and autumn are very warm, long and dry, so many experienced travelers advise to visit Hungary in the low season.

Hungarian cuisine

Hungarian national menu is characterized by an abundance of spices. They can be spicy or not very spicy, but generally revered dried paprika, which emphasizes the rich and juicy flavor of local food. Dishes are very hearty, there are vegetarian, but in most cases the indispensable component will be meat or fish.

Goulash Dried paprika Soup Halasle Perkelt Carrot cake Hungarian bread Dry Hungarian salami sausage

The most famous Hungarian dish that is popular outside the country is goulash. In a local restaurant you should certainly order the soup halasle, paprikas, perkelt, and a piece of trout, which is bred in the cold mountain lakes of the country. Another Hungarian culinary invention that is loved all over the world is PICK salami dry sausage. This delicious snack can be stored for quite a long time even without refrigeration. Many tourists take salami and different kinds of paprika back home as a traditional present instead of the boring magnets.

Cold bottle of Hungarian balsam Unicum

It is in Hungary where you can taste dozens of varieties of genuine tokai wine, the drink “Bull’s Blood”, the national vodka “Palinka”. Quality alcohol, as well as salami, can be bought at the market or in a good supermarket. Keep in mind that Tokay wine differs in ageing, harvesting time and sweetness.

Not to mention the opportunity to taste the delicacy of foie gras, which in Europe is allowed for production and sale only here and in France. This is goose liver, taken from birds raised by a special technology.

Separately, we can talk about confectionery, which is as delicious and hearty as the main dishes. Among the most popular, included in the “must” program of the tourist: pancakes gundel, sweet chestnuts with sour cream or cream, roulade retesch, chocolate biscuit galushki, various strudels and, of course, marzipan.

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Shopping

From Hungary as original souvenirs take away not only salami and tokajskoe wine, but also bitter local liquor, such as Unikum. It is worth looking at the unusual national Halasz lace and embroidery, which folk craftsmen make by hand according to ancient traditional techniques. Wonderful look dolls in Hungarian clothes, pottery. All this is created and painted by hand.

Also popular are the porcelain products of Zholnai and Herends factory, because they are of the highest quality and are considered a national treasure. You can buy gift sets of spices, marzipan figurines, fruit palinka.

Souvenirs from Hungary

Compared with other European countries, in Hungary, inexpensive, but very high-quality clothes. You can buy everything you want in supermarkets, stores or market. The oldest and most beautiful is located in Budapest. On Monday-Friday most grocery stores are open from 7.00 to 18.00, and on Saturday until about 12.00-13.00. Large supermarkets may be open much longer, sometimes around the clock. In summertime stores in large cities hold large-scale sales of clothes, shoes, accessories.

The national currency is the Hungarian forint. As in other EU countries, in Hungary you can get a refund of value added tax from the goods that were purchased in a single store to the amount of at least 50 thousand forints. The money is refunded in cash when crossing the state border at road border crossings, the international Danube port, at Ferihegy Airport 1 and 2 and at the IBUS office located at the Eastern Bus Station.

Vajdahunyad Castle in Hungary

Transport

The central hub of transport in Hungary is Budapest, from which roads and railroads to smaller settlements diverge like beams. This is very convenient, but creates some difficulties when you need to get to the city on the other “line”. Nevertheless, having a rental car is not difficult to get to any destination due to the extensive road network.

In order to rent a car you should have a proof of residence in Hungary (for example, a hotel receipt), an international driver’s license and a credit card. Instead of the last item you can make a deposit in cash. You must be over 21 years of age with at least 12 months of driving experience. On the roads there are speed limits, international traffic rules apply. The police in Hungary are very strict – breaking the rules threatens a heavy fine, and the slightest presence of alcohol in the blood also leads to immediate arrest.

The bus service is well developed: you can be sure not only of the exact schedule, but also of the exceptional comfort of the transport. The same applies to trains and ferries. The latter run along the Danube and can even take the traveler to Vienna. As for flights, they are designed mainly for international communication, although a few flights also operate within the country.

Cab rides are completely safe. Cars of this service can be recognized by a characteristic inscription in the door window. At the request of the passenger the driver will provide a bill.

Roads in Hungary

Finances and lodging

The Forint can fluctuate slightly, but generally one dollar is equivalent to about 285 local currency units. It is best to exchange currency in official points, banks, hotels, special machines. Please note that the rate at railway stations and airports is somewhat less favorable than in the city. Banks in Hungary work only on weekdays, at most until 16.00. But individual exchangers in the center, as well as machines and related hotel services serve travelers 24/7.

Hunguest Hotel Palota in Lillafüred

Exchange receipts should be kept until just before crossing the border at departure. Many hotels, restaurants, cafes and stores accept credit cards from international electronic systems.

Many tourists are surprised at the excellent ratio of service level and cost of living in hotels. Three-star mid-range hotel offers a cozy room with quality furniture, breakfast, polite and attentive staff. Even in small establishments the staff often speak Russian and English, German and Hungarian are obligatory. About the highest level of service in more prestigious hotels nothing needs to be said.

New Year in Hungary Farsang Festival

Annual Holidays

In addition to May 1, Easter, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, Hungary celebrates a number of national holidays. Farsang is a holiday similar to the Russian Maslenitsa, which came to these lands from Germany. The celebration takes place in spring and is celebrated with carnival acts.

Monument to Saint István at the Fishermen’s Bastion in Buda

The beginning of the warm season also marks the National Revolution Day. On March 15, 1848, a powerful national movement against the Habsburg royal dynasty began, which in time turned into a real Austro-Hungarian war.

Saint István Day

St. Stephen’s Day is one of the most revered holidays because it commemorates the coronation of the first Hungarian monarch, who started the existence of the state. It has been celebrated every August 20th for almost a thousand years. October 23 celebrates the day of the national uprising, which occurred in 1956, as well as the anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic. These are the most important, but by no means all of Hungary’s public holidays.

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This information will not only help you plan your travels, but will also help you avoid such unpleasant surprises as closed stores and banks.

Useful contacts

The Russian Embassy in Budapest is located at V1 Bajza utca, 35. Phone (1) 302-52-30, 332-47-48. The official website is http://www.hungary.mid.ru/.

Russian Embassy in Budapest

The Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Debrecen is located at 1 Arany Janos Street. Telephone (52) 536-926, 536-927. Official website http://www.debrecen.mid.ru/.

You can call the ambulance at 104, the police at 107, the fire brigade at 105 and the rescue service at 112. It’s easy to call not only from your cell phone, but also from the vending machines that are installed all over the place. The machines accept coins for 10 HUF – 100 HUF, but also special telephone cards which can be bought at hotels, stores, railway stations, post offices and tobacconist’s shops.

How to get there

Hungary borders with Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia, so you can enter through any of these countries. For Russians must obtain a Schengen visa.

Direct flights from Moscow to Budapest take 2,5 hours each day. Direct trains go from Moscow through Ukraine with a stop in Kiev. The travel time is about 40 hours. There is also a non-stop train from the Russian capital via St. Petersburg, but you will need a Slovakian visa to leave. Travel time is about 45 hours.

Top 20 attractions in Hungary

In the Middle Ages, Hungary has long been called the “Kingdom of the Huns”, and the Hungarians came to Europe from the steppe regions east of the Urals. The Hungarians themselves call themselves “Magyars” and their wonderful country Magyarország. Over a thousand years, the Hungarians have managed to create a unique culture, and our small review presents the main attractions of Hungary, as well as their photos and descriptions.

Lake Balaton

Balaton

This lovely lake, sprawling on the Central Danube Plain, is the largest in Central Europe, and Hungarians lovingly call it the “Pearl of the Country.”

The lake is the most important resort in the country, and the oldest town on its shore is Keszthely, which traces its history back to the beginning of the XIII century. There is also the surprisingly beautiful Tihany peninsula.

Along its banks there are numerous mineral and thermal springs, and that is why this place is especially popular among people who want to improve their health.

By the way, about the most beautiful lakes in the world on most-beauty.ru has an interesting article with lots of photos.

Buda Castle

Buda

The first citadel on the site of today’s Castle in the Hungarian capital was built by King Béla IV in the mid-13th century.

The dome of the majestic castle, standing on Mount Gellert, is visible from anywhere in Budapest. Originally the fortress protected the Hungarian tribes from the attacks of Tatar and Mongol warriors, and later became the residence of the Hungarian kings.

A similar castle was located in the city of Visegrad, but was destroyed during the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Now Buda Castle is one of the main attractions of the capital, which houses many museums and the National Library of Hungary.

In this article we will intentionally not write more about the sights of Budapest, because we have a separate article dedicated to this topic.

Bishop’s Palace

Bishop's Palace

On the Fortress Hill in Veszprém, Hungary the majestic Bishop’s Palace, built in the 1770s, towers above the historical part of the city.

The author of the project was architect Fellner, and the residence was built for Bishop Ignatz Koller. Built of white marble in the Baroque style, the building became a true decoration of the Hungarian city.

The facade is decorated with numerous sculptural compositions, including figures of angels supporting large vases with beautiful flowers on the pediment.

Hrashalkovich Palace

Graszalkowicz Palace

In the town of Hedelje there is one of the largest palace complexes in Europe, built in the first half of the 18th century.

The construction was begun by Count Antal Graszalkowicz I in 1733, and it took 30 years to finish the monumental palace. Queen Maria Theresa, who visited the palace in 1751, was struck by its splendor and decoration.

Built in the Baroque style, the palace is very popular among tourists, and exhibitions, festivals, classical and popular music concerts are held within its walls.

Eger Fortress

Eger Fortress

After the Tatar-Mongols destroyed the settlement of Eger, the bishop commanded the construction of a stone fortress that would protect the local population from the raids of nomads.

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In 1552 the defenders of the fortress bravely repelled numerous attacks of the Turkish troops. For five weeks, 2 thousand Hungarians under the command of Istvan Dobo held back the siege of 40 thousand Turks, and the enemy was forced to retreat.

Now a national museum, and tourists can learn the history of the fortress, visit the museum István Dobo, towers and underground casemates.

Reformed Cathedral

Reformed

Debrecen is known not only for the fact that it is the second most populous city in Hungary, but also for the many monuments of architecture and history.

Among the majestic buildings stands out the Reformed Cathedral – the largest Protestant cathedral in the country. It was here that Hungary’s independence was proclaimed.

Many historical artifacts are preserved within the walls of the temple, and a luxurious park with rest areas and beautiful fountains is laid out in front of the building.

Basilica of St. Adalbert

Basilica of St. Adalbert

The main Catholic cathedral in Hungary, located in the city of Esztergom, today is the largest church in the country and one of the tallest buildings.

The history of the Cathedral, consecrated in honor of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Adalbert, dates back to 1001. During its more than thousand-year history it has been repeatedly rebuilt, and in 1856 the inhabitants saw a new and beautiful cathedral, built according to the project of Janos Pax.

The size of the basilica, as well as the luxurious interior decoration are striking. Here you can hear the sounds of the large antique organ.

Sopron Fire Tower

Fire Tower-City-Sopron

Built in neo-Renaissance style, the fire tower rises above the town to a height of 60 metres and is considered to be one of Sopron’s landmarks.

The first tower was built in XI century, using the remains of a Roman villa for foundations. During its long history the tower was repeatedly rebuilt.

At the bottom is the “Gate of Allegiance” in memory of the referendum of 1921, when the residents voted in a referendum to become part of Hungary.

Millennium Park

Park-Millennium

The town of Siofok is famous for being the birthplace of the famous composer Imre Kalman, it is also a popular Hungarian resort, and there is a wonderful park here as well.

The best masters of the country worked on the creation of natural landscapes, alleys and fountains, so the park fascinates with its beauty and splendor. The entrance is free, and locals and tourists alike love to relax on the green lawns, or take a leisurely stroll through the shady alleys.

The center has a monument to Imre Kálmán and it is easy to get to the park because of the nearby train station.

Miskolc National Theater

National-theater-Miskolc

The beautiful theater, built in the Neo-Baroque and Classical style, was opened in 1857.

The first building of the theater appeared in 1819, but then it was decided to expand it, resulting in almost a new building. In 1880 it was reconstructed and a tower was added.

Not only the theatrical productions are held on its stage, but also the annual Opera Festival, which brings together the world’s best stars of the opera scene.

The Garden of Ruins

Garden-ruin

Hungarian Székesfehérvár was first mentioned as an urban settlement in 972, and one of its attractions is the unique remains of a XI century basilica.

Archaeologists discovered it while excavating the historic part of the city. It is within the ancient cathedral were buried Hungarian kings who ruled before the Turkish occupation.

The famous Garden of Ruins is located on the Coronation Square and was named by archaeologists, who partially restored the foundations of the basilica.

Selim Cave

Cave-Selim

One of the most beautiful and famous natural attractions is located near the town of Tatabanya on one of the slopes of Gerece.

The cave was formed naturally as a result of the effect of water flows on the rocks. Its length is 45 m, and the vaults of some of the rooms reach a height of 14 meters.

Archaeological research was conducted in the cave, as a result of which traces of primitive people were found.

Historical Center of Gyor.

Historical Center-Djora

If you believe what tourists say, visiting the Hungarian small town Gyor, as if you get into another era.

Indeed, it is a wonderful way to preserve the urban development of the XVIII century, with beautiful residential buildings, churches and castles. The buildings are built in the style of classical Austrian baroque, and are a kind of monuments of history and architecture.

Another noteworthy detail are the many balconies, of different shapes and sizes, due to which Győr is called the “city of balconies”.

Ruins of Roman Savaria

Ruins of Roman Savaria

In the historic center of one of the oldest Hungarian cities, Sombathey, are the unique ruins of the Roman settlement of Savaria.

The archaeological complex includes the remains of the temple of Isis, built in the III century, as well as the foundations and part of the walls of an early Christian basilica of the IV century.

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Other finds include the remains of an imperial palace, public baths, and crafts quarters. In the center of the settlement the archaeologists investigated a unique sanctuary of Mercury.

Lake Heviz

Lake Heviz

In the west of Hungary stretches the mirror of a thermal lake, which got its name from the spa town of the same name.

The lake is especially characterized by the composition of its water, which contains numerous mineral elements, including radon, potassium, iodine and other trace elements. The uniqueness of the lake is that thanks to underground sources every three days update the composition of the water.

People from all over Europe come here, suffering from diseases of the musculoskeletal system, nervous and cardiovascular system.

About the most beautiful lakes in the world on our site is a very colorful article.

Tokay-Hedaglia

Tokay-Hedgalla

The famous wine region of Europe, Tokay has been known since 1550, and the region itself is famous for its unique vineyards and ancient wine cellars.

A part of the region with vineyards is in Slovakia, and the Hungarian authorities in cooperation with winemakers are fighting for the uniqueness of the Tokaj brand.

In the XVII century Tokay wines from the best varieties of white grapes became known in Russia.

Fortress of Köseg

Fortress-Köseg

220 kilometers to the west of Budapest is a town Köseg, famous for its stone castle, which was built in the XV century.

Originally the monumental fortification belonged to the famous Gharai family. They had erected a majestic tower, on the first floor of which there was a wine cellar.

There was a heroic episode in the fortress’ history, when a small group under the leadership of Miklos Jurisic stopped the Turkish army’s passage. To commemorate that event, the bells strike at 11 o’clock every day in the fortress.

Subterranean Lake

Underground Lake

In 1903, under the town of Tapolza, geologists discovered a unique underground lake with a network of amazingly beautiful caves formed in the mainland.

On one of the streets of Tapolza is the entrance to the caves, and to go down to the lake you have to walk through the steps. Here you can not only see the beauty of the caves, but also take a boat ride on the underground lake under the arches of the caves.

Part of the water comes to the surface, forming a small lake in the center of Malom.

Sárvár

Szarvar

This small Hungarian town on the bank of the Raba River is well-known in Europe for its unique baths, and it is also a great balneological resort.

The therapeutic baths are situated in a beautiful forested area just 500m from the city center. In spite of its numerous historical and cultural attractions, the town is well known especially for its medicinal waters.

They come here to improve health, and doctors recommend visiting the resort for people with cardiovascular diseases, kidney diseases, diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.

Pecs

The ancient city of Pecs boasts a mild climate, as well as many cultural attractions. An early Christian mausoleum, the cathedral, and the Pasha Gazi Kasim Mosque, built by the Turks during the Ottoman Empire, are just some of the main attractions in this southern Hungarian city. The Early Christian Necropolis, built in the 4th century BC, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Hollokö

Hollokyo

It is difficult to stop at twenty sights, stated in the title of the article. Let’s go a little beyond the top 20 and present the next beautiful place of the beautiful country.

The Paloka people are an ethnic minority known for their unique, well-preserved traditions. Hollokyo is a small village in the northeast of Hungary, 90 kilometers from Budapest. But the proximity of the capital has not changed the life and life of the people. The village is a great place to study the traditions and lifestyles of the inhabitants. It is an open-air ethnographic museum where the inhabitants lead their daily lives. In 1987, the place was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Visitors to Hollokyo can visit various museums, workshops, and just admire the old buildings. Seasoned tourists advise to come here at Easter to enjoy the traditional celebration of Easter.

Szentendre

Szentendre

Not far from Budapest is Szentendre, a city known for its beautiful art. Here you can find many galleries and museums, and people who are not into art will find their charm in the many cafes and bars.

To sum up

Top 20 Highlights of Hungary

Looking at the map of Hungary with the sights, we can call it a country of majestic palaces and ancient castles. As we can see, there is a lot to see in this amazing Eastern European country, and Hungary’s natural attractions are considered not only national, like Lake Balaton, but also a world treasure.

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