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Posted by on Sep 26, 2016 | 118 comments

Walking Vienna’s Old Town

I went to Vienna with low expectations.

How I dare to say something like that about one of the most beautiful cities in Europe?  After all, half of the planet has a desire to visit.  Most of my friends looked uninterested about my Central / Eastern European travel plans until the word Vienna came out of my lips.  The mention of the city provoked elation.

“Vienna!!! I have dreamed for years of visiting the city,” was the reaction I heard like ten times.

I understand there are legitimate reasons to look forward to visiting the city.  But, on the other hand, I have read articles describing it as cold, unwelcome and with no soul.  That worried me a bit since I am the kind of traveler who is very interested in human interaction.

After strolling around the city for a day, I was more than happy with what I experienced.

There is no discussion about the aesthetics of Vienna. If you look left, there is a palace.  If you look right, there is another palace.  Your eyes get saturated with one grand building after another.  And, did I mention those buildings are squeaky clean?  Their pale-colored surfaces shine like gold under the sun.

However, I found the city to be more than a striking beauty.  I discovered a city full of life.  During that first stroll, we bumped into a film and gastronomic festival.  We passed lively markets, terraces full of people eating alfresco and shops full of flowers.  Concert venues were scattered around the parks and the Museum Quarter.

It was fun to absorb the festive atmosphere.  Plus, it was fascinating to have the opportunity to talk to locals and visitors from all over the world.  After all, Vienna ended up being a blast!

I found the action concentrated around the Innere Stadt or Vienna’s Old Town.  This part of the city is surrounded by the Ringstrasse.  This circular road follows the outline of the former fortification walls.  Most of the main attractions, including the Habsburg residence or palace, are located in or around this area.

The distances can be covered by foot or using public transportation such as the tramways or Metro.

Museum Quarter

The Museum Quarter is one of the premier cultural areas in the world.  It has an area of 60,000 square meters and it holds about eight different institutions.  The buildings have Baroque (former Imperial Stables) and Modern influence.  An entire day can be spent in here.

Museum Quartier, Vienna, Austria

Maria Threresien Platz

This large square houses two more museums: the Natural History Museum and the Art History Museum.  The buildings are near identical, except for the statuary on their façades.

Maria Threresien Platz, Vienna, Austria

Maria Threresien Platz, Vienna, Austria

Maria Threresien Platz, Vienna, Austria

As the name implies, a huge statue of Empress Maria Theresa (mother of Marie Antoinette, last queen of France) stands in the middle of the square.

Maria Threresien Platz, Vienna, Austria

Hofburg Palace

This was the former winter palace of the Habsburg rulers and part of it is used as the residence and workplace of the President of Austria.

Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria

Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria

Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria

The magnitude of this palace is beyond the scope of this post.  You are going to notice its enourmous size if you visit Vienna.  In my opinion, the palace represents the center of the city.  It cannot get unnoticed.  We saw an exhibition about the Imperial Kitchen (more interesting than how it sounds) and entered the living quarters of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Sisi (Elizabeth).  The Spanish Riding School is located in the grounds too.

Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria

Hofburg Palace, Vienna, Austria


This square is dominated by the Michaelertor, the entrance gate to Hofburg. Roman and medieval ruins can be seen in the square.

Michaelerplatz, Vienna, Austria

Michaelerplatz, Vienna, Austria

Many carriages congregate at this point.

Note: I took pictures of them but I am not a fan.

Michaelerplatz, Vienna, Austria

Michaelerplatz, Vienna, Austria


It was time to hit one of the pedestrian parts of the city.  These streets are full of high end shops, cafes, restaurants and galleries.  Indulge a little bit and have some ice cream, chocolate or cake.  This was my favorite area to sit down and people watch.

Old Town, Vienna, Austria

Old Town, Vienna, Austria

Old Town, Vienna, Austria

Old Town, Vienna, Austria

When walking around, it is impossible to miss churches such as St. Peter and St. Stephen (the mother church of Vienna).

Old Town, Vienna, Austria

Old Town, Vienna, Austria

Old Town, Vienna, Austria

Old Town, Vienna, Austria

Old Town, Vienna, Austria


A visit to Vienna would not be complete without taking a look at its Opera House.

The institution is one of the busiest opera houses in the world producing 50 to 60 operas per year and ten ballet productions in approximately 300 performances. It is quite common to find a different opera being produced each day of a week. As such, the Opera has 1,000 employees (that is crazy!).

Opera, Vienna, Austria

Opera, Vienna, Austria


This was my favorite church in Vienna.  It is located on the edge of the Old Town and it is surrounded by a park.

I felt like this area is highly visited by locals when compared to other places in the center. Kids were riding bikes, dogs where taking a dip in the fountains and adults were enjoying a bite from a nearby stand.

Karlskirche, Vienna, Austria

Karlskirche, Vienna, Austria


The Austrian Parliament Building, built in Greek Revival style, is where the two houses of parliament conduct their sessions. We stopped by the building late in the afternoon but we were able to appreciate the straight lines and imposing statues.

Parliament, Vienna, Austria


This building houses the city hall and Vienna’s mayor office.  It is interesting to see the country’s parliament and the city’s main hall located almost next to each other.

The Rathaus is one of Vienna’s most iconic structures and the square in front of it hosts numerous activities.  This is where we found the film and gastronomic festival.

Rathaus, Vienna, Austria

Rathaus, Vienna, Austria

Rathaus, Vienna, Austria

The Burgtheater or the Imperial Theater is located across the street.

Burgtheater, Vienna, Austria

It was my pleasure to take you around a small part of the Imperial City.  Hope you join me in the future in order to discover more of what the city has to offer.

Have you visited Vienna’s Old Town?

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Guide to see the best or top sights in Old Town Vienna.  The best thing is that all the best spots are within walking distance (or a short tram ride away).


  1. We are going to Vienna next month and it looks so beautiful, and after reading your post I’m sad I’m only there for 3 days now! #citytripping.
    Mellissa Williams recently posted..Bidvine Photography ReviewMy Profile

    • I think three days is a good amount of time to be there. We spent 4 days there but use two days to do day trips. Everything in the post was seen in one day (since things are close to each other).

  2. I felt the same way about Vienna. I knew I wanted to see it because people always raved about it and I wanted to know what was so great about it, but I wasn’t excited about actually going. Then once there, it turned out to be so stunning and amazing I fell in love with it, and now it will always have a special place in my heart as that’s where my boyfriend proposed! #CityTripping

    • Oh my! It would be amazing to say you got engaged in Vienna! Your boyfriend nailed the proposal.

    • I imagine the city looks completely different during the Christmas season. Would like to visit during that time. I imagine all the markets there are around.

  3. Wow – gorgeous shots of the city.

    • Thanks a lot!

  4. Indeed Vienna is soo regal! I particularly like Schoenbrunn palace (and gardens), but as I like Budapest much more than Vienna!

    • Anna, in all honesty. Vienna was my least favorite city on the trip. I fell in love with Prague and Budapest.

  5. Vienna seems such a marmite city – for everyone who adores it, there’s someone who is disappointed it seems. A friend of mine is going soon and asked for tips… I had to admit I hadn’t been for 20 years! Time to go back myself I think and the tips are perfectly timed. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping
    Cathy (Mummytravels) recently posted..City Tripping #46My Profile

    • I have heard a lot of mixed feelings about the city. I think it depends a lot of when you visit and what people your interact with while there. As I mentioned, the city is beautiful but, in my case, I travel for more than that.

    • Oh! That is so nice! It would be cool to meet with other travel lovers in certain cities!

  6. I am so glad you enjoyed your time there, I’ve heard a couple of negative tales of it being a bit sterile but looking at your pictures it looks anything but! What luck there was a gastronomic festival on too. I have never been to Vienna but I am definitely looking to go in the near future! #citytripping
    Elizabeth (Wander Mum) recently posted..City Tripping #46My Profile

    • Well, I have negative tales too but I prefer not to focus on them. The gastronomic was a welcoming find. We loved it!

    • Wow! Great you got a tip or two form here. Stay tunned because I have a lot more to write about the city.

  7. It’s interesting to hear you say that you weren’t as excited to visit Vienna until you arrived at the city. I’ve heard a couple of other travelers say the same thing and then they rave about it when they return. There’s so much amazing architecture and I love the Museum Square, it looks like you could spend all day there, as you said. Great photos, looking forward to learning more about this city!
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    • Brooke, there are several things I didn’t like about the city but, as I mentioned in a previous comment, I prefer not to dwell too much on those experiences. So, I think it depends a lot on the visitor.

  8. Oh, what a beautiful city. I have never been but I’d love to visit the church of St Stephen (my husband is Stephen too) and the Rathaus. I’m glad that it exceeded your expectations. It bumps it up my to-visit list.
    Mandy recently posted..24 Hours in Tankerton, WhitstableMy Profile

    • Your husband will feel at the top of the world in Central Europe. In Vienna they have the St. Stephen Church and in Budapest they have the St. Stephen Basilica. It honors Hungary’s first official king (in a political sense).

    • Oh great! Feel good when you are reminded of a city you like.

  9. I’ve only been to Innsbruck in Austria so far but Vienna looks totally stunning and I’d love to visit one day! Maybe for Christmas? I feel like it could be the ultimate Christmas destination. We were in Munich last year at the same time and it was fantastic!

    • I think Vienna would be very similar to Munich during Christmas. So, I think it is a good time to visit. I went to Innsbruck and Salzburg long time ago but do not remember much.

  10. I think i need to revisit Vienna! I was there 11 years ago but unfortunately my 9 year old daughter was ill for the few days we were there so we didn’t see much (we were backpacking around Europe and luckily she was ok when we went onto Budapest and Prague!). I think i will add this to our next train travels around Europe – look forward to further posts!

    • How awesome should be to backpack with your kids around Europe. I have to get ideas from you. No doubt you have to add Vienna to your future travel plans.

  11. I’ve heard about Viennese (?) people being cold and bordering on rude (same thing I heard about Parisians), have you experienced that?

    No question that the city is beautiful. Is it a 3d2n visit you think or needs more than that?

    • Unfortunately, that is true in many occasions. Not even people on the service industry is willing to help and treat you like you do not exist. I was insulted by a guy in the street because I said I was’t interested in the concert tickets he was offering. We met a Viennese who worked as a pastry chef in Mexico for 6 years and he was the first one to say people in Austria are very cold when compared to people in Latin America.

      But, on the other hand, we met really nice people who were willing to help us even when they didn’t speak English or Spanish. I prefer to think of them as the face of the country.

      Let me also say there are social, economic and political reasons that have influence the character of the people in Central and Eastern Europe thru the years. This is not an excuse for being rude but it helps you to understand better the situation.

  12. I love the feeling of being so happily surprised by a place! I went to Vienna for two days when I travelled a bit in central Europe and had no idea what to expect so I was so pleased too! It really was beautiful, and I got to see it in the snow so it had that extra winter wonderland magic about it too!

    • Tons of people rave about the city in winter. I will need to visit during that season one day.

  13. Yup, I am the half of the planet that wants to visit Vienna. But I get what you mean.. By spectacular buildings that may lack the human touch.. After all, I come from Singapore and that’s one of the biggest complaints about our country isn’t it? That we have skyscrapers, movie-worthy Gardens by the Bay, squeaky clean streets.. but our people are like soul-less. Glad to hear the Vienna was not like that, and I sure look forward to visiting it one day! 🙂 #CityTripping #WanderfulWednesday
    Bumble Bee Mum recently posted..Kiyomizudera Special Night Opening in Autumn – Your Survival GuideMy Profile

    • Really? It is the first time I hear that about people in Singapore. In Asia, I have been in Thailand where people are super friendly. I have been to China and the story is a bit different but still, I met nice people.

  14. Someday I’ll get to travel to Europe. I don’t know where I’ll go first. Maybe Italy, Greece or Croatia. I can’t wait. I wouldn’t turn down a walk in Vienna though.
    Did you change your mind about its virtues? It looks beautiful.

    • All those places sound great! I do recommend a visit to Vienna. The city is nice and the day trips are amazing (you would not believe the Wachau Valley).

  15. It is too long since I’ve been to Vienna – back in my early 20’s – but I am surprised by how spruced up the buildings are. I loved your close up photo of the arched windows and red flowers. I’ve also heard some not so good opinions of Vienna so it was good to hear your positive thoughts.

    • Twenty years is a long time. I am pretty sure a lot of things have changed in the city since your visit. I think it is time to revisit.

  16. I always fall big for the European architecture, so I’m pretty sure that I’d fall in love with Vienna. In fact, I’ve been there twice in the past year. Both times I sat in an airport transit lounge for an hour. My flight itinerary said nothing about this stop, and had I known I would have arranged to stay for a couple of days. I was annoyed that the stop wasn’t on the itinerary. When I asked the ground staff why I simply got a shoulder shrug and “oh we always stop here in the winter.”!! Love you photos and thanks for co-hosting Travel Photo Thursday this week. #TPThursday

    • Well, that is weird. Hope you are aware next time so you can go out and enjoy what the city has to offer.

  17. It is great that Vienna exceeded your expectations. The old buildings and architecture is amazing and to think that a lot of the lovely classical music came from this place. Beautiful photos! 🙂

    • I didn’t have the chance to enjoy the classical music. The activity on the streets took over our nights and evenings. I have to plan something with respect tot that for next time.

  18. I’d love to visit countries in eastern Europe as half my heritage is from Austria and the Ukraine! Vienna’s architecture looks so lovely and I’m sure the food there, especially pastries, were delicious.
    Pat recently posted..Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument, MontanaMy Profile

    • Wow! That is awesome. I would like to visit Ukraine too. Part of my heritage is German. That is why I would like to visit the Northern part of the country.

  19. Never been to Vienna, but your post makes me want to shove it higher up the must see list!

    • Jackie, that is good. It is a city that deserves a visit. It is beautiful and the history being it is fascinating.

  20. I realllly like Vienna; but I definitely thought it was lacking some things. I went back in college and had a really hard time finding the nightlife. We wandered around for hours looking for something to do. I have to agree that it was SO clean though. Everything was pristine. The Old City almost looked like a museum in itself! Your pictures are stunning as always! Thanks for sharing 😀

    • Not sure if by nightlife you are referring to clubs and discos. Seems like the city doesn’t have a lot of that. But, it seems like there is an event going on each night (at least in summer). The concerts and gastronomic festival were running until 12:00 a.m. when I was there. There was a tons to do in the evenings at that time.

  21. I really enjoyed Vienna. It’s been years since I’ve been but your post brought back so many memories for me. I love the history of the city and the architecture is beautiful. #weekendwanderlust
    Allison recently posted..Alki Point: Fun in the Sun in West SeattleMy Profile

    • Great you got good memories from my post. A lot of my friends told me they went to Vienna. My photos remind them of their visits.

  22. Wow, I heard great things about Vienna, and I believe it now with your images. A girlfriend went on a solo trip there, and she said it was one of the best experiences she had.

    • Well, I saw a lot of ladies visiting the city on their own. It is a great place for solo travelers.

  23. The City looks lovelyl and full of life. your friends must be quite blase’ and seasoned travelers not to get excited for your trip — no matter where you were going I would be excited ;>)

    • Sallie, it is the reverse. They rarely travel so they had not idea where Hungary, Austria, Poland or the Czech Republic are. Plus, they do not have any idea of how those places look or what is there to see. They see us as weirdos that travel to dangerous countries.

  24. Beautiful shots of the city! It looks like your weather was ideal when you were there. Another one for my someday list!

    • Yes, the weather was excellent. It wasn’t too hot or too cold. It was a nice respite after Budapest’s heat.

    • Well, if you say so! Have to make it there one day. I am sure it is a city you are going to enjoy.

  25. Beautiful shots here Ruth. Hofburg Palace looks stunning, and the architecture there looks so pretty. I can imagine it was really interesting to find out more about the Imperial Kitchen as well, and see the grounds. Vienna has always been somewhere I’ve wanted to go and your photos capture it just how I imagine it would look. – Tasha

    • The tour inside the palace was excellent. My husband doesn’t like museums or guided tours inside places like that but he liked Hofburg’s Palace. You had to see the silver cutlery, the many plates and the cooking utensils. It was great to learn more of that.

    • The city is all about music. There is a big numbers of concerts, ballet and musical performances all over the city. Also, there are several museums dedicated to composers. Not sure if there are Sound of Music tours there. That is more a Salzburg thing.

    • Thanks to you by stopping by!

  26. I love Vienna! Been there close to Christmas and with all these markets, architecture and history it felt like time-traveling! Went to Opera there – was incredible, would love to see the real Viana ball one day #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • Wow! Sound like you had tons of fun. You and other commenters have convinced me to visit the city around Christmas time. Seems like it is a special time to be there. I want to tour the Opera if I go back one day. I have heard the tour is really good.

  27. I love that you enjoyed Vienna! I had a lackluster time connecting with it in early spring – kind of cold weather – but am ready to give it another chance this year again! Love the photos, and makes me happy to return!
    Christy Swagerty (whatupswags) recently posted..Live Well: OctoberMy Profile

    • I get what you are saying. Not everybody loves the city. I liked it but didn’t love it. I will go back but it is not in my list of priorities.

    • I am not kidding when I say the city has like 100 museums. I was reading a list of them and I couldn’t finish because I got tired.

  28. Your post made me miss Vienna. I would love to go back for a visit. Last time I was there we could only spend 48 hours and was able to only see the Old Town. There is so much more to this great city and you’ve just caught the essence of it.

    • Anda, I agree that is difficult to see a decent amount of the city in 48 hours. I spent about that same amount around it. We felt like we saw a decent chunk but we didn’t enter a lot of places since there was no time. We’ll be back one day.

  29. Ahhhh – I just visited Vienna early in September, so it was wonderful to relive the experience through all of your stunning photos! I think you did an amazing job capturing the spirit and atmosphere of the old city. Your pictures look like postcards!
    Emily @ Out and About recently posted..CurrentlyMy Profile

    • Oh Emily, you are so kind. We went end of August / beginning of September. Maybe we were there at the same time.

  30. I can’t believe you were unexcited about visiting Vienna. It is a beautiful city. Sadly, we are all several decades too late to enjoy it. David and I went there many, many years ago and loved it, but on our last visit the major attractions were so crowded with cruise ship passengers (bussed in from who knows where) that it was completely spoiled. Our experience of the Hofburg Palace was so awful we should have been given a refund. No matter what we did, we couldn’t get away from swarm after swarm of cruise ships groups. The guides talked loudly over everyone else and the sheer number of people in the groups made it impossible to see or read the exhibits. We tried skipping rooms, repeating rooms, staying put and hurrying forward but absolutely nothing worked – there were just so many people on the tours.
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    • I am assuming you guys were bombarded with river cruise passengers. Wow! I can’t believe the situation was so bad. We were lucky since we felt there was enough space to move around without being choked by the crowds. Our tour of Hofburg was pleasant. Too bad you guys were able to enjoy your stay (btw, crowds drive me nuts).

  31. Haven’t visited Vienna yet but hoping to one day. Lovely photos!

    • Ahila, I hope you make it there one day. Thanks for your comment.

  32. I have heard both good and bad things about Vienna as well, but I always like to venture my own opinion once I’m there so I usually take others opinion with a grain of salt. Your pictures of those buildings alone definitely have an influence on me when I go visit because I always find old buildings to be so beautiful and wonderful to take pictures of. And Vienna definitely looks like they have some beautiful old buildings.
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    • I agree with you. I like to see places by myself even though they are despised by other travelers. I would say you would like Vienna because the city looks like a living museum. Those buildings in the photos are limestone. Do you know what it takes to keep those clean?

  33. As someone who has spent quite a bit of time in Vienna, I think you’ve covered the centre of the city really well. You’re not wrong about the palaces, they’re everywhere you look, but I’m not complaining. I’m also not a fan of the horse carriages. Nice one! #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • I am seeing a lot of photos of the city on Instagram and i cannot believe the palaces I missed. More excuses to go back.

  34. I spent a day in Vienna decades ago when I visited Europe with my parents on one of those 10 countries in 2 weeks kind of group tours. I still remember how immense Hofburg Palace is. I don’t think St. Stephens had such a modern building across the street from it back then like it does in your photos. I’m glad that you found Vienna to be a warm and inviting place full of life.
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    • Michele, you remember correctly. Hofburg is gigantic. It can be described as a city in itself. Kind of makes sense since it was the grounds of a really powerful empire.

  35. I have not been to Vienna yet and it is on my list. I love places you can explore by foot. Thanks so much for all the tips and great pictures. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • Oh, so you will like Vienna because things are close to each other. I like to explore by foot too.

  36. Wow, Ruth – Fantastic photos! I haven’t heard many people say they didn’t like Vienna, but I know plenty who do focus on the negatives in anything. There is certainly good and bad everywhere, which will always be different from person to person. Which is why we need to go see for ourselves, right? Great post – thoroughly enjoyed it!
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    • Totally agree Rob! Hey there were some bad moments in Vienna but I prefer to focus on the good ones. And, yes, I like to stop by a city no matter the reputation.

  37. We didn’t make it over to Vienna when we were in Austria. We sort of wanted to, but there were other places we wanted to see more. I would still go based on your beautiful photos but like many capital cities around the world, they seem to lack the soul that other places have.

    • Paula, you may want to give Vienna a try since there are may great trips you can take from there. I liked my visit to the Wachau Valley more than Vienna.

  38. Ruth, I’m glad you enjoyed Vienna from the beginning. It took me a couple of visits to really warm up to the city. I don’t know why. It is a gorgeous place with lots to do and see!

    • I can see how it can take several visits to warm up to the city. I have experienced the same in other places.

  39. Beautiful place to go around. I love the architecture on display.

    • The architecture is one of the main assets of the city.

  40. very interesting, vienna’s always great !

    • I now, Vienna did not disappoint.

  41. I was in Vienna once but I don´t remember seeing this. Maybe lack of time.

    • Well, there is a lot to see in the city. I know i missed parts of the Old Town. Will have to take a look next time I visit the city.

  42. Wonderful photography of a lovely and beauteous place ~ thanks for visiting

    HWishing you a wonderful week ~

    • Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate the time you took to comment.

  43. I hadn’t heard that about Vienna being cold and unwelcoming, it sounds as if you didn’t experience that side of it. So much to take in, what an awesome place and an excellent group of photos. So you don’t like the carriages, huh? The markets and terraces full of people and food and concerts among all that would put me in hyper mode.

    • I will prefer not to ride the carriages. The horses looked fine but I am not sure how they are treated.

  44. Hello, I would like to travel with you, You go to the most beautiful places. Love collection of photos. Happy Thursday, enjoy your day and the weekend ahead!

    • Thanks a lot Eileen. Glad you enjoyed the photos.

  45. Hello Ruth, I’ve gone on an armchair visit to Vienna by just reading your post and admiring your photos. The architecture is so grand. It sounds like you also enjoyed people-watching.

    • Barb, this is great! Seeing other people travel accounts have inspired me to travel.

  46. I love Vienna. This is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen…

    • There is no doubt the city is very beautiful. I explain it as an open air museum.

  47. Wow, amazing place. Nice post.

  48. Our trip to Austria only saw us visiting Salzburg, which was lovely (Cue “The hills are alive….”). I would love to be able to visit Vienna should we ever make it back to Austria next time.
    Buckeroomama recently posted..Rooting for Root BeerMy Profile

    • I went to Salzburg and Innsbruck many years ago. Therefore, Vienna was on my “to visit” list. I was able to visit the city 10 years after the initial visit to Austria.

  49. Hi! I feel weight of the history from your photos. Your photos are very beautiful.
     I want to upload my photo in your meme in near future. Thanks for sharing.

    • Yes, feel free to enter the Thursday link.

  50. Fantastic tour! I do love the old architecture and could take photos of it forever! Great variety of scenery.
    bettyl – NZ recently posted..Heartland FlyerMy Profile

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