Located around where the Oka joins the Volga and turns it into a mighty river. Nizhny Novgorod is famous for its rich history and architecture: has amazed its visitors for centuries: Nizhny Novgorod city’s Kremlin is worth a look. There are also numerous Orthodox churches and wooden houses with skillfully-made carvings on the windows. Lovers of Russian literature visit Bolshoe Boldino, a place where Alexander Pushkin spent some of his most productive time. Nizhny Novgorod Oblast is also famous for the Russian Khokhloma folk craft (wood painting handicraft). In the town of Semyonov you can see how Khokhloma items are made and have a go yourself; the process hasn't changed since ancient times. Nizhny Novgorod should not be confused with Novgorod, which lies 150 kilometers southeast of St. Petersburg.

Nizhny Novgorod is a special city in the history of Russia. It was here that Minin and Pozharsky gathered the famous people's militia and went to wage war on the Polish invaders. The campaign of Nizhny Novgorod citizens saved our country from utter destruction. Nizhny Novgorod is the birthplace of writer Maxim Gorky, actor Evgeny Evstigneev, as well as modern stars: Kristovsky brothers, Sergei Chigrakov, and Natalia Vodianova.

Sights and attraction in Nizhny Novgorod region include Diveevsky Monastery, Semenov Gold Khokhloma, Gorodets, with its world famous toys, Makaryev Monastery, Pushkin's Greater Boldino, and Lake Svetloyar. In the summer, when navigation is open, river tours are available, offering a chance to admire the beauty of the Volga and Oka. The climate here is mild for Russia. Winters are snowy and cold (-5... -15 degrees Celsius), and summers are pleasant and not so hot (+20... +25). Russians like to call the region Nezhny Niznhy (“Tender Nizhny”). Website: Tourist Portal of Nizhny Novgorod Oblast:

Nizhny Novgorod City

Nizhny Novgorod (420 kilometers east of Moscow on the Volga River) is Russia's fifth largest city, with a population of about 1.26 million people. Referred to locally as Nizhny, it used to be the third largest city with 1.5 million people. A closed city known as Gorki during the Soviet era, it welcomes relatively few visitors and doesn't have very developed tourist infrastructure. Most tourist visits who stop in Nizhny Novgorod do so as part of a Volga River cruise.

Located in the southern Nizhny Novgorod is nice, fairly low-key city. Regarded as part of the Golden Ring, it has some charming 13th and 14th century cathedrals, convents, and columned and plaster palaces that spread out below the stone fortress (kremlin). It is also famous for the production of matryoshka dolls, gold and black spoons and dolls and other traditional crafts. Wandering through the historical part of Nizhny and checking out the streets with the wonderful names like Rozhdestvenskaya, Pochainskaya, Pokrovskaya and Dobrolyubova, admiring the architecture, is recommended.

Nizhny Novgorod the administrative center of Nizhny Novgorod and is a major river port and one of the chief industrial cities of the Russian Federation. Its named was changed to Gorki in 1932 from Nizhny Novgorod to honor Maksim Gorki, novelist and playwright who was born here in 1868. In 1991, its name was changed back to Nizhny Novgorod. Nizhny Novgorod shouldn't be confused Novgorod, another old city 150 kilometers southeast of St. Petersburg.

Getting There: By Air: A flight from Moscow to Nizhny lasts takes one hour. Tickets cost 7,000-8,000 rubles. You can also luck out and get a ticket at a discount, in which case it costs 3,000–4,000 rubles. By Train: Strizh and Lastochka high-speed trains run from Moscow, and a trip will take 3.5 hours. Ticket prices start from 900 rubles. By Road: The distance from Moscow to Nizhny along the M7 federal highway is just over 400 kilometers. Traffic jams notwithstanding, it is quite possible to make the trip in 5-6 hours. However, the M7 highway is quite busy, so allow 7-8 hours for the road.

History of Nizhny Novgorod

Situated where the Volga and Oka River meet, Nizhny Novgorod was founded in 1221 and was a frontier post in the early part of the 13th century and was a major trading center for Russia and the East. Nizhny Novgorod was the capital of its principality in the 14th century, before its annexation by Moscow in 1392, and later became famous for its large, successful trade fairs that attracted people from the Orient, Europe, Siberia, Turkestan and Russia.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Nizhny Novgorod was known as a cultural and political center. It is the birthplace of the writer Maxim Gorky. During the Communist era, Nizhny Novgorod was a closed city. the heart of the Soviet military manufacturing—MiG fighter aircraft, submarine parts and nuclear weapons were all produced here—and was where famous dissidents like Nobel-Peace-Prize winner Andrei Sakharov were internally exiled.

In recent years it has attracted a fair amount of investment and is often filled with foreign businessmen trying to set up deals. Privatization has worked well and agriculture restructuring has been a model for other Russian communities, factories churn out MiG fighters, ships, cars and submarines

Tourism in Nizhny Novgorod

Accommodation: One option is a small private hotel. There’s no shortage of those in Nizhny Novgorod; some examples are Azimut, Nikitin, or Zhuk-Zhak. A single room will run you 2,000–3,000 rubles. For corporate trips, large hotels are more fitting, such as Marins Park Hotel, Ibis Hotel, Oktyabrskaya Hotel, or Oka Hotel. Price per room starts from 3,000 rubles.Website: Tourist Portal of Nizhny Novgorod Oblast:

Restaurants: The number of cafes, restaurants and other eateries per square meter is off the charts. Especially nice and diverse in this regard is Rozhdestvenskaya street. Here you can dine at the Pyatkin Russian restaurant, spend quality time at the Bezukhov literary cafe, taste quality pilaf at the Tyubeteyka, or enjoy seafood at Dodici Wine & Kitchen. You will be treated to the most delicious cocktails in the Mednye Truby. If you crave something unusual, come to the Expedition: here you will be offered a beautiful view and gastronomic hits of the peoples of the Far North, cooked from venison, wild boar, or yak. In Pokrovka, drop by the Yula with its excellent pizza, or the Salyut burger bar, or have a coffee in Coffee Is a Fruit. The average check in Nizhny Novgorod restaurants is 1,000–2,000 rubles.

Shopping: Gifts In Nizhny, gifts can be bought literally at every step. Gift shops can be found in the Kremlin. In Pokrovka, you should go to the Art and Crafts store, where works by local artisans are sold. If you want to bring a painting from Nizhny, again you should head on over to Pokrovka where, next to the Orlyonok cinema, local artists sell their works. Prices are very affordable, provided that you come across as a local.

Transport:: The most convenient way to travel is by public transport (bus, tram, trolleybus, or minibus); tickets cost 28-30 rubles. There’s also a subway in Nizhny, but it’s not very large — two lines only. The cost of a single trip ticket is 28 rubles. Another convenient way to go places is by cab: all the major applications like Gett, Yandex, or CityMobil work here. The competition is high and the prices low, starting from 50 rubles per trip. Recently, car sharing came to Nizhny Novgorod, and now avid drivers can use the Delimobil service.

Sights in Nizhny Novgorod

The Kremlin is located in a hill overlooking the Volga River. The walls date to the 16th century and have 11 towers. The buildings inside include the 17th-century Cathedral of the Archangel Michael, the Art Museum and a number of buildings used by the local government. The Memorial Complex "Gorky-Front" is dedicated to the workers of several plants in Nizhny Novgorod, who contributed to the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. During the war, 2,360 tanks, 1,500 airplanes, 9,000 motor vehicles and 10,000 artillery pieces were produced in the city. The war memorial contains a collection of World War II vehicles and an eternal flame overlooking the Volga. The Sakharov Museum is located in the apartment he shared with his wife. There is also a Radio Museum, Museum of History and Architecture and Gorky Museum.

Many of Nizhny Novgorod's churches and monasteries have been restored in recent years. These include the Assumption Church, a 17th-century stone church with features usually found only on wood churches; the Strogonov Church, with fine stone carvings; the Savior Old market Cathedral; the Annunciation Monastery; and the Pechorskaya Monastery. Shukhov Tower is the world’s only diagridhyperboloid transmission tower. The Museum of Nesting Dolls (Ascension Historical Museum) opened in 1992 and has 3,000 exhibits The museum’s collection of dolls, with life-size dolls and matryoshka (nesting) dolls, is said to be very good.

Bolshaya Pokrovskaya Street , known locally as Pokrovka, is 2,500 meters long. About half of it has been pedestrianized. Sometimes called “Nizhny Novgorod Arbat”, it a bustling street full of cafes and restaurants and is considered a street of museums, since almost every building in it is an architectural landmark. The Maxim Gorky, Nizhny Novgorod Drama Theater, the manor house of the Rukavishnikovs, and Nizhny Novgorod Puppet Theater are all found here.

Bolshaya Pokrovskaya Street is one of the oldest streets in the city. It used to be the street only for the noblemen. By the end of the 18th century it had become the main street in Nizhny Novgorod. Nowadays the buildings in the street are very carefully taken care of and well preserved. Almost every building has its own history and architectural style. It’s really lovely to walk along the street in the evening, because it’s nice illuminated. Also you can enjoy performances by the street musicians and exhibitions and sales by local artists. The street become pedestrianized in 1982 earlier than Arbat in Moscow. It connects four main squares: Minin and Pozharsky Square, Theater Square, Gorky Square and Lyadov Square.

Kremlin of Nizhny Novgorod

The Kremlin of Nizhny Novgorod is one of the oldest and most original of its kind in Russia. The original wooden fortress was constructed in 1221. Later it was given masonry walls. There are museums in four out of thirteen towers. It is possible to walk along the Kremlin wall. The art museum in Kremlin Building 3 has original works of Repin, Kramskoy, Savrasov, Vasnetsov, Shishkin, Polenov, Kustodiev, Makovsky, Levitan, and others. Opposite the museum is the Mikhailo-Archangel Cathedral, last resting place of Kozma Minin, a hero who helped the Russians fend off a Polish invasion in the 17th century. The Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin is visited not only by tourists but locals as well: the armory building hosts the Center for Modern Art. The Philharmonic Society has a concert hall in the Kremlin as well.

According to legend, the lands occupied by present-day Nizhny Novgorod were the home of a Mordvin-Starling, who had a dozen and half wives and around 70 children. His friend, the magician Woodpecker, a prophesied that his descendants would lose this land if they did not live in peace and consent. So, in 1221, the Great Prince Yuri Vsevolodovich built a wooden fortress here at the confluence of Volga and Oka rivers. This settlement came to be known as Nizhny Novgorod and the hills are called the Woodpecker Hills. The name of the hero of this legend is connected with the fact that these lands were inhabited in ancient times by two peoples, the Mordva and the Mari.

A stone Kremlin with 13 towers replaced the wooden fortress at the beginning of the 16th century. It became the outpost of the eastern border of the state and has endured about 10 sieges. The walls of the Nizhny Novgorod Kremlin follow the shape of the underlying hills. The walls of the Kremlin are just over two kilometers, and they enclose an area of 26 hectares.

Each of the Kremlin towers has its own name, some them with a legendary origin. The Beam Tower, for example, is so named because it is where a brave local woman Dunyasha killed over a dozen Tatar-Mongols with a beam. There is a clear division between square towers, which one can pass through, and round ones, with dead ends. One of them, the Dmitryevskaya, has an exceptionally wide top. It was widened in 1896 for the All-Russian Art and Industry Fair of Nizhny Novgorod, when additional space for a museum was required.

In the 17th century, the Kremlin lost its military functions as a fortress. Since the 19th century, it has served as an administrative center and a museum. Today the Ivanovskaya tower hosts an exhibit titled “The Feat of People's Unity”; the Zachatyevskaya tower displays “The Archaeological Past of the Kremlin”; and Dmitryevskaya tower contains an exhibit on the history of Nizhny Novgorod.

Within the Kremlin's walls, the Cathedral of Archangel Michael, constructed in stone in 1628-1631 by the order of the Romanovs in commemoration of the Nizhny Novgorod militia of the 1612, has been preserved. Since 1962, the remains of Kuzma Minin have rested in the Cathedral. An obelisk, installed on the territory of the Kremlin in the 19th century, is dedicated to Minin and Pozharsky, the heroic leaders of the all-Russia volunteer army. The Monument to Minin and Pozharsky placed in on Red Square in Moscow in 1818 was originally intended for Nizhny Novgorod.

The monument to Yuri Vsevolodovich and Bishop Simon, installed in the Kremlin, is dedicated to the events of the 13th century, when the Tatar-Mongol hordes set off for Russia. Yuri Vsevolodovich was the last of the Russian Great Princes of the pre-Mongolian era, and his defeat on the Sit” river became a part of history. In addition, Soviet-era military equipment — a T-34 tank, a legendary Katuysha rocket, and an armored car, produced by the factories in Nizhny Novgorod during World War II — sit in the Kremlin:

Nizhny Novgorod Embankments

There are several embankments in Nizhny Novgorod. The three main ones are. Verkhne-Volzhskaya embankment originates from the famous Chkalov stairs. You’d be hard pressed to find another example of such multi-step beauty (and this one has got 443)! The stairs were constructed in honor of the victory at Stalingrad. They have an unusual shape and are perfectly visible from any angle, be it from above, below, or from the river. The stairs start at the monument to the legendary pilot Valery Chkalov and end at the memorial to the Hero boat. If you have braved the entire Verkhne-Volzhskaya Embankment, got tired and want to relax, you can take a cable car ride. Most of its span is over the water surface. Utterly beautiful! The car connects two cities, Nizhny Novgorod and Bor. A round trip will take you 30 minutes, and a one-way ticket costs 100 rubles.

Nizhne-Volzhskaya Embankment is not that rich in sights, but this is probably the best place to take a walk. On city holidays, stages are set up here and concerts held; in the summer, an open-air cinema operates. Opposite the Nizhne-Volzhskaya embankment, Rozhdestvenskaya street is located; in ancient times, it was the city’s main shopping street. The most iconic place here is the Baroque Stroganov Church. There is another feature here: Rozhdestvenskaya Street is rightfully considered a gourmet haven, as all the best restaurants and cafes in the city are located here, found in almost every building. A tour tram runs along the street; it will gladly reveal all the secrets of the Rozhdestvenskaya street to you. Tickets cost 150 rubles.

Fedorovsky Embankment is from the Fedorovsky embankment that the city presents its best view. This is the place to admire the Strelka, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the stadium, and the Nizhny Novgorod Fair. The embankment goes down in a series of terraces, and from different heights the city looks completely different. People prefer to take walks there with their entire family — both Nizhny Novgorod locals and tourists. A couple hours is enough for a good stroll. However, if you are going to drop by a museum on your way, better set aside no less than 3-4 hours. Strelka. This is the place where waters of two rivers, the Volga and the Oka, meet. Here stands one of the most beautiful churches in Russia, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. In 2018, a football stadium was built nearby for the World Cup. The most amazing thing is that the graceful old cathedral blends quite organically into the background of the modern stadium building. These days, life bustles at the stadium; games are held here, along with concerts by stars.

Fair House and the Nizhny Novgorod Fair

The history of the Nizhny Novgorod Fair spans over more than four centuries. The fair was located on the Volga — the largest waterway of Russia — making it easy to get from many places, and was very close to Nizhny Novgorod, which helped the city grow and prosper as a major trading center. Nizhny Novgorod was called the Pocket of Russia, since such a high volume of trade was concentrated here. Today, the Nizhny Novgorod Fair is the city’s central exhibition center. The Main Fair house and several pavilions are located on the grounds. The Main Fair House contains the “Russia is My History” multimedia exhibition, which emphasizes the history of Nizhny since its founding.

The Fair House was built at the end of the 19th century, centuries after the fair started and thus was not the first Main Fair House building. The present structure was designed by the architect K. P. Treiman, who was selected through a competition. Corresponding with the noisy, tumultuous atmosphere of the fair, the Fair House like a miniature ancient Russian town with towers, steeply-sloped roofs. figured decorations and adornments associated with the Ancient Rus: drop ornaments, kokoshniks, square decorative brickwork.

On the first floor there were offices of the governor, a club and restaurants. There were also special stores for those years on the first floor: they traded luxury goods — silk fabrics, ladies” and men's toiletries, jewelery. In the evening that stores gallery was brightly lit by lamps, music sounded. They came here for shopping, and on dates, and just listen to music. And in the side parts of the building there were various city services: the police department, the world court, the housing commission, the commercial bank office, the fire brigade unit. In the Soviet era, the building housed the famous “Children's World” store. In 1990, the building was returned its former name, the Main Fair House. Today, it has some stores, a reception halls and the “Quarks” Museum of Entertaining Sciences.

Flying in a MiG-29 Aircraft for $14,000

Sokol Aircraft Plant (western outskirts of Nizhny Novgorod in Moskovsky City District) is the a manufacturer of MiG fighters. It offers demonstration flights four tourists in MiG aircraft at its adjacent airfield (known in the west as Sormovo Airfield). The flights are carried out well-serviced planes by pilots verified by the Russia government in accordance with guidelines established by of the Russian Government. The processing time of official permits for Russian citizens is 3-4 days, and for foreign citizens not less than 60 days. The prices are about US$14,000 for a 25 minute flight and US$16,000 for a 45 minute flight.

Integrated flight program includes a flight into the stratosphere to an altitude of 20-22 kilometers and the performance of some complex aerobatics moves. The flight lasts just 45 minutes. The program has existed for several years and is now is a popular tourists attraction. Preparation for comprehensive flight in the MiG-29 will take about 1.5 hours. Before the flight, participants are checked to see how many G-forces they can withstand. Another program, aerobatics, allowing the passengers to experience aerobatics moves such as "inverted flight", "bell" bends, "a dead loop Nesterov", "knife", "barrels", pass on minimum speed, and others. In the final stage of the flight, the plan does a pass 15-20 meters above the runway.

The flights can be booked through Zurich-based MigFlug Gmbh ( . According to their website: “ Supervised by our experienced test pilots, you will be exposed to the G-force of the MiG-29’s two mighty turbines. Up to 9 G of force will be exerted on your body. Have your body be pressed into the seat as you fly special manoeuvres with the pilot, like rolls, loops, Immelman-turns and tail slides. These manoeuvres though, inspired by real combat operations, are only the beginning. After some time in the air comes the big highlight: the pilot hands you over the controls for you to fly the MiG-29 all on your own! A totally different, literal peak: the flight to the “Edge of Space”. With a MiG-29 you can get closer to space than ever before. The fighter jet catapults you up to 22 km above sea level (17km is guaranteed). At this height, the earth’s curvature is visible and you can catch more than just a glimpse of the vastness of space.”

Semenov: Matryoshka Dolls and Capital of the Old Believers

Semenov (65 kilometers northeast of Nizhny Novgorod) is a town of 25,000 people regarded as the capital of the Old Believers and a center for traditional handcrafts such as Khokhloma wood painting and matryoshka dolls. The world famous Khokhloma wares were developed at the Khokhloma Painting factory. Tours and workshops are held regularly there for tourists. The Gold Khokhloma Museum and Tourism Center is the largest modern museum of woodcraft folk art in Russia. You can get to Semenov from Nizhny Novgorod by bus or train.

Old Believers are members of a conservative and rebellious group within the Russian Orthodox church. Also widely known as the True Believers, they trace their origins back to a revolt over religious reforms made by Patriarch Nikon in the mid 1600s when the Russian Orthodox Church experienced its own Great Schism. In 1653, the autocratic Patriarch Nikon tried to bring Russian Orthodox church rituals, liturgy and texts in line with those of the 'Pure' Greek Orthodox church. He ordered rituals changed and Biblical text retranslated to correspond with the Greek versions. The direction of priestly processions was changed. The number of bread loaves used in liturgies was reduced. Followers were required to say a different number of Hallelujahs at services and cross themselves with three fingers (representing the Trinity) instead of two (the traditional Russian way).

The dispute over the reforms led to a schism between Nikon's New Believers and the Old Believers. Old Believers regarded the changes as blasphemy and believed Russian Orthodox should serve as model to Greek Orthodoxy not the other way around. They tried but failed to reverse the reforms. In the end Nikon was sacked by Tsar Alexey for his intrusions into Ukrainian territories. Later Peter the Great upheld the reforms.

Old Believers don't drink or smoke. Men have long beards. Women dress modestly. Followers say a different number of Hallelujahs at services and cross themselves with two fingers rather than three as regular Orthodox Christians do. Old Believers are buried with a cross at their feet while Orthodox Christians and are buried with the cross at their head. Old Believer services often last for five or six hours and members are required to stand the entire time. Old Believer women must enter church wearing a head scarf. This is not necessarily true with the Orthodox. Many Old Believer religious texts are manuscripts. The have a rich oral tradition of songs and folklore. and valuable icons. Medical care is often provided by folk practitioners.

Semenov was established in the beginning of the 17th century as a settlement of Old Believers, who believed it was the site of medieval Olenevsky Skete (present-day village of Bolshoye Olenevo, 24 kilometers mi) southeast from Semenov), which had supposedly been founded in the 15th century by Macarius's monks to commemorate their leader's Miracle of the Moose that took place at that site. The first documented mention of Semenov was in 1644. From 1779 it was recognized as a town From the beginning of the 19th to the early 20th century, it was a center for Old Believers movement and the only place that produced Old Believers' religious items such as lestovka prayer beads.

Vyksa Steel Works Tours

Vyksa Steel Works(in Vyyksa, 150 kilometers southwest of Nizhny Novgorod) is one of the oldest companies in Russia and today is the country’s largest manufacturer of steel welded pipes and railway wheels. Founded in 1757, it manufactures a wide range of pipe products for building oil, gas, water pipelines, heating systems, and for construction and other industries. It has an annnual capacity of producing 2 million tons of large diameter pipes and 850,000 railway wheels.

Vyksa Steel Works (VSW) is now part of United Metallurgical Company (OMK). The VSW plant and facilities covers an area of almost 500 hectares and employs about 12,000 people. A few years ago VSW launched the industrial tourism program consisting of three special tour routes: each focusing on a particular manufacturing area of the plant.

Route No. 1. Metallurgical complex STAN-5000, opened in 2011, is one of the most modern steel mills in Russia. At this rolling complex, hot steel plates are put through a rolling stand and are transformed into a meter-wide sheets with a thickness of 5 to 8 centimeters. At the electric-welded pipe shop sheet steel pipe are made to the unique "Russian" size: with a diameter of 1420 millimeters and a wall thickness of 48 millimeters.

Route No. 2. Casting and Rolling Complex, launched in 2008, produces hot rolled coil steel for casing and gas pipes, steel profiles. The guided group goes into electric-welded pipe shop No. 3, where the rolled steel is made into various pipes. Among the pipes produced here have been shaped pipes with square and rectangular cross-section for the construction and renovation of stadiums hosting matches of the World Cup in 2018.

Route No. 3. The wheel plant annually produces hundreds of thousands of solid-rolled wheels for trains and subways such as high-speed "Swallow" trains and the trains of the Moscow Ring Railway. VSW railway wheels are available in more than 30 countries. Among them: the United States, Canada, Slovakia, Czech Republic, India, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, South Korea and the Baltic countries.


Solvychegodsk (400 kilometers north of Nizhny Novgord in Arkhangelsk Oblast) was the center of the Stroganov empire in the 16th–17th centuries. Ivan the Terrible turned to the Stroganovs when he needed the most valuable varieties of furs, one Russia’s most valuable trade items. Anika Stroganov was entrusted with the control of trade rules prescribed for foreign merchants on the White Sea, while his sons bought out foreigners imprisoned in Moscow to appoint them their salesclerks for trading with Europe. The Stroganovs supervised the preparation of Yermak’s campaign to Siberia and even made plans to find ways to China.

In the late 17th century, the famous Stroganov School of icon-painting started developing in Solvychegodsk. Icons painted by its masters, fine pictorial embroidery and items made by Solvychegodsk silversmiths can be seen in the Annunciation Cathedral, one of the oldest stone churches in the Russian North. This is the Stroganovs” family church featuring masterfully executed frescoes, a magnificent iconostasis and ornate Holy Gates. Their family tomb is located next to the cathedral.

By the late 19th century, Solvychegodsk had become the trademark of the province. Alexei Tolstoy and the Zhemchuzhnikov brothers chose its suburbs as the homeland of the fictional writer and author of aphorisms Kozma Prutkov. Solvychegodsk now hosts the annual Talent Festival named after Kozma Prutkov.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Federal Agency for Tourism of the Russian Federation (official Russia tourism website ), Russian government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Yomiuri Shimbun and various books and other publications.

Updated in September 2020

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