Prague Towers (6) – Old Town Bridge Tower

View to the Old Town Prague roofs,

Old Town Bridge Tower from the Charles bridge

Old Town bridge tower was built at the same time as the Charles bridge (second half of 14th century) by the work-shop of Petr Parléř, the most important builder in gothic Prague. About hundred masons worked on it during its building. Recontructions were done in 17th and 19 centuries, also changes were done in 50s an 70s of the 20th century.

From 1621-1631 the tower served also as a display for 12 heads of leaders of estate revolt, who were executed at the Old Town Square. One night they were taken down and burried at the unknown place. The tower was sorely spoiled at the end of 30 years war in 1648 by Swedish Army, all the decoration from western side (from the bridge) are gone. There used to be statues of Madonna, Charles IV and his wife. Two oracular writings were found during one of the recontructions, they are in latin and readable in the same way from back as from the beginning: “Signate, signate, mere me tangis et angis” and “Roma, tibi subito motibus ibit amor” (palindromes). They have no easy meaning (and therefore I am not able to translate them to English), but the magic formulae of power and might is hidden in them. They are spells to protect the tower.


King fisher in knotted-towel, sign of spa-guild, symbol of Wenceslas IV (son of Charles IV), also symbol of pure soul, can protect from lightning, multiples treasuries and calms the storm


Look up when standing under tower, king’s crown and more king-fishers

The ground part of the tower – up to the size of “the man on the horse” – belongs to the carnal life.


The entrance to the tower and Prague castle view

The next belt belongs to moon, above the gate there are coats of arms of the lands under Charles IV rule. The most important ones are in the middle, a black eagle in the gold field (roman emperor) and a silver double-tailed lion in red field (Czech king).

Right above is the next belt – the sun one. St. Vitus, patron of the bridge, is in the middle and by his sides are Charles IV and Wenceslas IV, arched over with triangle decorated by 24 crabs, symbols of 24 hours. Both rulers are coronated with emperor’s crown. Above them are St. Vojtěch and St. Zikmund. The statues were made in 1380-1400, but now you can find here sandstone copies from 2006.


Tower interior ceilings, scultpure at the tower as viewed from Křižovnické náměstí

You have to climb 138 stairs to reach the view platform. The height of the tower is 154 ft (47 m) above bridge level and 187 ft (57 m) above Vltava river level.


Views to the bridge and Prague Castle from the tower


River view


Direction Old Town

The roof of the tower was originally covered by polished gold, the gold covered also the cloaks of the statues. It nicely corresponded with the St. Vitus cathedral at Prague Castle, whose roof was covered with gold as well. The roof is made of shale now. The symbolic and spectacular decorations served to show the triumph of Luxembourg family, and they also had cosmologic and astronomical importancy at the date of tower origin.

There is one special Mystery of solstice. Every year at the solstice at the noon the shadow of the lion covers the coat of arms with the eagle. It happens only this one day of the year.
And when you stand at the former saint Vitus day at the bottom of the tower and you look at the sunset above Prague castle, the Sun shows you exactly the place where the remains of St. Vitus are buried in St. Vitus cathedral.

The next tower is Astronomical Tower of Klementinum, here as seen from the Old Town Bridge Tower.


Astronomical Tower of Klementinum is the second one from left with statue of Atlas holding the globe on the top

The whole series to be found here

1 Introduction
2 Bell Tower of St. Vitus Cathedral
3 Petřín Watchtower
4 St. Nicholas Bellfry
5 Little Quarter’s Bridge Tower
6 Old Town’s Bridge Tower
7 Astronomical Klementinum Tower
8 Tower of the Old Town Townhall
9 Powder Tower


Prague Towers (5) – Little Quarter Bridge Tower


Smaller and higher Tower Bridges in Little Quarter side from Charles Bridge

Our last tower on the left bank of the Vltava River is the Bridge Tower in Little Quarter. There are two of them, smaller and older one, you can read about it at Prague Towers (1) and the higher one for today’s post. Originally at this place another small romanesque tower stood there to be in pair with the existing one belonging to romanesque Judith’s bridge, which fall down in 14th century. After Charles bridge was built (1357 – 1407) a new gothic tower started to be built at this place, it was finished after 1464. The tower was built as a copy of the Old Town Tower Bridge (our next post), but less decorative, less symbolic. The last reconstruction was done in 1879-83 by architect Josef Mocker.


Traditional view to Prague Castle and St. Nicholas Church from the tower

Both towers are connected by the gothic gate with a spirelet decorated with the following coats of arms: Empire’s Eagl, Czech Lion and the sign of Upper Lusatia, bellow are the symbols of the Old Town and the Little Quarter.


Gate with symbols

Bridge towers were often used as a display and warning, therefore in 1517 there was shown the head of robber knight Jindřich from Bohnice, who was executed. But now you won’t find it there :-). The height of the tower is 143 ft (43.5 m) and you have to climb 146 stairs to reach the view.


Charles Bridge and Prague roofs


Vltava bridges, south from Charles Bridge, towers on Vyšehrad at the left


Walk on the top of the gate and the window in the tower

After the visit to the Bridge Towers I recommend you to visit Café Kafíčko, cafe with the best coffee in Prague, nearby in Míšeňská 10 street. Looking down from the tower you see the small square and Čertovka Channel with a small bridge. But you won’t go there.


Čertovka Channel and small bridge over it, Charles Bridge at the right side

You should go to the left, there is another small square with green gas lamp-post (kandelábr) and looking at the building on the next shot you go right to Míšeňská street to the cafe.


Ministery of finance is on the left side, school building in the middle, Míšeňská street going to the right

The interior is cozy and the coffe is indeed the best in Prague, you can also try some nice sweets there. When you are there, take a look at the people in the cafe, you might find me :-).


Cafe Kafíčko interier, delicious plum cake and the best coffee in Prague

The next tower is Old Town’s Bridge Tower, here as seen from the Little Quarter Bridge Tower.


Old Town’s Bridge Tower

The whole series to be found here

1 Introduction
2 Bell Tower of St. Vitus Cathedral
3 Petřín Watchtower
4 St. Nicholas Bellfry
5 Little Quarter’s Bridge Tower
6 Old Town’s Bridge Tower
7 Astronomical Klementinum Tower
8 Tower of the Old Town Townhall
9 Powder Tower


Prague Towers (4) – St. Nicholas Church


Tower and the Church

St. Nicholas Church in Little Town (Lesser Quatter, depends of translation of the Malá Strana) is the peak of baroque architecture in Prague and one of the best works north of the Alps. It was built in 1704-1755 by three generations of great Baroque architects – father, son and son-in-law: Kryštof Dientzenhofer, Kilián Ignác Dientzenhofer and Anselmo Lurago (remember Loreta from Prague Towers (1)). The bellfry, the next tower from our serie was finished by Anselmo Lurago, and contrary to the church the tower belongs to the city, therefore the entrance is not from the church but from the side street. Originally the tower was planned to be low but then it was built high. People were afraid it will fall down but time proved that it was built with perfect architectonic and engineer work. You can recognize it was built like a copy of the tower of St. Nicholas Church in the Old Town (you can find this one at Prague Towers (1)).


Staircase and bell

During 18-19th centuries the guards served at the bellfry, their duty was to announce fires or enemies trying to enter the town. During communistic regime there was state police observatory and listening devices. The reason was the proximity of American and Yugoslavian Embassies, and also path to Western Germany Embassy. The last records from this observatory were done at the beginning of 1990 year (after revolution in November 1989). The exposition of former observatory called “Eider duck” picturing the work of State police was opened for public in April 2010. As most of the towers of my series, this tower can be climbed up. The flourish are played from the top of it every full hour during summer.
The bellfry tower is in roccoco style and it is 243 ft (74 m) high, the view is in 148 ft (45 m) and you have to climb 215 stairs to reach the view.


View to the Eastern side of Little Town Square


Down there is  a Starbucks coffee


South view to Carmelitan street and the Church of Our Lady Victorious


Little Town Roofs


Little Town Square again – left 2003, right 2010, the bulding of Malostranská beseda before and after renovation to its original shape with spires.


Petřín view, 2004 and 2010, winter and summer, the building in the middle is a garden house of US embassy (see the flag?), bellow it one of the most beautiful gardens in Prague, Vrtbovská Garden


View from St. Nicholas Bellfry to Strahov monastery and Prague Castle – partial view

The next tower is Little Quarter’s Bridge Tower as seen from St. Nicholas Tower.


Little Quarter’s Bridge Tower

The whole series to be found here

1 Introduction
2 Bell Tower of St. Vitus Cathedral
3 Petřín Watchtower
4 St. Nicholas Bellfry
5 Little Quarter’s Bridge Tower
6 Old Town’s Bridge Tower
7 Astronomical Klementinum Tower
8 Tower of the Old Town Townhall
9 Powder Tower


Prague Towers (3) – Petřín Watchtower


Rose garden bellow watchtower

Looking at Prague panorama you see something familiar, even when you are here for the first time. Eiffel tower? Yes, Eiffel tower!
Czech Touristic Club visited Paris in 1889 and they stole the top of the Eiffel tower and brought it to Prague … sorry, wrong story, no :-). The tourists fell in love with Eiffel Tower and they wanted to have it at home, even bigger if possible. Money was the problem, but people were donating money for new “lighthouse” for Prague after big PR actions. The construction of Petřín watchtower began on March 16, 1891 and hard work started. The works were finished only four months later, July 2, 1891. Our new tower had better elevators – modern gas ones – comparing to ordinary hydraulic ones at Eiffel Tower.


Eiffel Tower?

Grand opening was on August 20, 1891, the tower was covered with national colors (white – red – blue) and on the top of the watchtower waved our flag. The standard was 17 metres higher then the top of Older sister in Paris. The dream was fulfilled.


Climbing up

At the same time the funicular to the top of the hill was finished and one year later also the Mirror Maze below the tower.


Mirror Maze (roofe and spires on left) and the Church of St. Vavřinec (red with green spires)

Technical parametres:
weight 175 metric tons
bases were deep 36 feets / 11 meters
the watch platform is in the height of 180 feets / 55 meters
you have to climb 299 stairs to reach it
total height is 297 feets / 60 meters


Student’s dormitories (left) and Strahov stadion (right)


Left bottom: monastery and hospital of Karel Boromejský, middle right: Prague Castle, horizon: biggest Prague housing estate Bohnice


Little Quarter with St Nicholas Church. middle horizon: Letná hill


Charles Bridge and view to the Old Town

The next tower will be tower of St. Nicholas Church at Little Quarter, here as seen from Petřín Watchtower.

St Nicholas Church

St Nicholas Church

The whole series to be found here

1 Introduction
2 Bell Tower of St. Vitus Cathedral
3 Petřín Watchtower
4 St. Nicholas Bellfry
5 Little Quarter’s Bridge Tower
6 Old Town’s Bridge Tower
7 Astronomical Klementinum Tower
8 Tower of the Old Town Townhall
9 Powder Tower


A Word A Week Photo Challenge – Weather

I love snow in Prague. Right now we have in Prague the weather you can see on my shots for A Word A Week Photo Challenge – Weather. I combined the shots that were done with and without flash. I want you to see the difference between them and choose which one is better. Usually I prefer shots without flesh, but here I like the ones with snowflakes taken with flash more.

Snowflakes at the Square of Republic are so big that you have to keep your eyes closed :-).


Snowflakes at the Square of Republic

The top of the Wenceslas Square with a horse statue and St. Wenceslas, meeting place for Prague people. Meetings are mostly planned “bellow the tail” (of the horse). Big building behind is the Czech National Museum.


St. Wenceslas on the horse

More walking in the snow at the Wenceslas Square.


The traffic signs are reflective.

On the right side of the shot is a House of Fashion, opened during communistic regime to prove, that we (means: communistic countries) also have nice fashion and House of Fashion was the place where to buy it (for whole Czechoslovakia). On the other side of the square was a House of Food, similar, but not the only place with food in CS, but the only place with delicatesses.



Travel theme: Up

What I always say to my clients when I am giving the tour in Prague is: Always look up. Everywhere there is something that surprises you, some nice detail that worths seeing, something unexpected. The Travel Theme: Up is therefore easy for me. I want to show you ceilings, domes, vaults and arches, which you can find in Prague but also around it.
As usually we start our tour at Prague Castle, with vaults of St. Vitus cathedral, Vladislav’s Hall and Lands Rolls.


From top left: Chapel in St. Vitus Cathedral, ceiling of Land Rolls offices in Royal Palace, valuting of St. Vitus cathedral, Vladislav’s Hall

Above you have examples of gothic and Renaissance vaulting, bellow is the dome of St. Nicholas Church in Little Quarter in Prague, the peak of Baroque in Czech lands.


Dome of St. Nicholas Church

We are coming to the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Vaulting on the left is from the Church of St. Ludmila from the end of 19th century, the right is the shot from the passage of Czech National Bank (our Fort Knox), built at the beginning of 20th century.


Vaulting of St. Ludmila Church and passage of Czech National Bank

There are a lot of passages and galleries around Wenceslass Square in Prague. Specially these are the places where you stop doing window shopping and you look up to see all the glass and metal around. Most of the passages is nicely reconstructed.


Passages at Wenceslass Square: Koruna, Rokoko and U Stýblů

Trains are a good way of travelling around Czech Republic, the next shot is from the oldest train station in Prague, now it is called Masaryk‘s, after the first president of independent democratic Czechoslovak republic 1918-1938.


Masaryk’s train station platform

With the train we can reach Kutná Hora, another place in Czech Republic that is written in UNESCO World Heritage List. Now we are not going to visit the city center, but let’s see quarter called Sedlec, where you find bone chapel and beautiful Church of Assumption of Our Lady.


Kutná Hory / Sedlec, Ossuary (Bone chapel) and Church of Assumption of Our Lady

You already saw the works of Santini in one of my previous posts and there is the dome of the Church of St. John of Nepomuk in Žďár nad Sázavou, another monument written on World Heritage List and protected by UNESCO.


Ceiling od the Curch of St. John of Nepomuk in Žďár nad Sázavou

Last but not least is my favorite city Olomouc and shots from the Cathedral of St. Wenceslass, a beautiful cathedral from 12th century.


Arches and roof of St. Wenceslass cathedral in Olomouc

Prague Towers (2) – St. Vitus Cathedral

The introduction to Prague Towers series can be found here.

St. Vitus behind Royal Summerhouse

St. Vitus behind Royal Summerhouse

The first tower I chose for my Prague Towers series is the tower of St. Vitus cathedral in Prague Castle. That’s the green one, which you will find on any panorama picture from Prague, also on my blog here or here or here and also at some other posts, I chose just the panoramatic ones. Today I start with a bit unusual view from the Prague Castle’s back, from Royal Summerhouse.

St. Vitus Cathderal was founded in 1344 by Czech king and Roman Emperor Charles IV as the most important church in Czech lands. It was not built in the city center, as it is quite usual in Europe, but above it, in the complex of Prague Castle.

Bell Tower from the 3rd courtyard of Prague Castle

Bell Tower from the 3rd courtyard of Prague Castle (you can easily guess this shot was not taken the day I climbed the tower up …

It was built in four phases, finished in 1929. At the interior and the exterior you can see the traces of the centuries, but the building itself is gothic, despite the fact that the final works were done in puristic gothic style in 20th century.

The tower we will talk about was founded in 14th century by Petr Parléř and it is called Bell Tower. The height of it was 180.5 ft (55 m). The tower partially burned during the big fire in 1541 and was rebuilt again in 1544. Therefore,  Renaissance arcades were added with baroque green spire on the gothic bases.

Bells are hiddne in the tower behind the golden bar

Bells are hidden in the tower behind the golden bar

Lots of bells rang from the tower, today you will find there these 7:

  • Zikmund (Sigismond) from 1549, the biggest Czech bell, done by Tomáš Jaroš, weight 13.5 tons and diameter 6.6 ft (2.56 m).
  • Václav (Wenceslass) from 1542, done by Ondřej and Matyáš Pražský
  • Jan Křtitel (John Baptist) from 1546, author Stanislav
  • Josef (Joseph) from 1602, author Martin Hilger

From 2012 there are three more bells from the workshop of Dytrych family (from Brodek by Přerov)

  • Dominik (Dominus = Our Lord)
  • Maria
  • Ježíš (Jesus) – the smallest

You can listen to easter ringing of these bells from 2012 at this link.

From St. Vitus bell tower there is one of the most beautiful views to Prague, even when the visibility is low.

Government buildings

Important buildings from top left: Černín Palace – ministery of Foreign Affairs, Royal Summerhouse, Lobkowicz Palace – German Embassy, Karmář’s villa – seat of prime minister

Looking straight down from the tower.

Right down

St. George basilic, oldest church at Prague Castle, roofs od the Cathedral, 3rd courtayrd of Prague Castle – main entrance to presidential offices

Deatils on the roofs.



And finally view to the city.

eth eth wr

View to east, Little Quarter and Charles Bridge

Little Quarter square with St. Nicholas Church and former jesuith college in the middle

Little Quarter square with St. Nicholas Church and former jesuith college in the middle

Vltava river bridges, direction Letná, Karlín and Holešovice

Vltava river bridges, direction Letná, Karlín and Holešovice

Our next tower will be Petřín Watchtower, how viewed from Bell Tower of St. Vitus Cathedral.

Petřín - watchtower

Petřín – watchtower

The whole series to be found here
1 Introduction
2 Bell Tower of St. Vitus Cathedral
3 Petřín Watchtower
4 St. Nicholas Bellfry
5 Little Quarter’s Bridge Tower
6 Old Town’s Bridge Tower
7 Astronomical Klementinum Tower
8 Tower of the Old Town Townhall
9 Powder Tower


Santini – Architect Of Gothic-Baroque

Jan Blažej Aichl Santini is one of my most favorite architects. He lived in 17th-18th centuries and I want to show you some of his masterpieces at pictures and tell you something about his life and work.

Church of St. John of Nepomuk from 1735, Žďár nad Sázavou, on UNESCO herritage list from 1994, maquette at Boheminium (see post about Mariánské Lázně to know more about the maquette museum)

Santini was born in 1677, as the oldest son of honourable Prague mason Santini-Aichel, he was baptized at St. Vitus cathedral. He was born partially paralyzed and disabled, which ment he would not be able to follow the family traditional mason workshop. Even though he served out masonry, but also studied painting with painter Schröder.

Morzini’s palace in Neruda street, Prague, statues of maur’s by Brokoff

Around 1696 he started to travel and gain experience, mainly in Italy in Rome, where he learned from Francesco Borromini, radical architect. From 1700 Santini was  working on his own projects in Czech lands.

Thun’s palace in Neruda street, Prague, eagle ladies by Matyáš Braun

From his early works we can observe his popularity between honourable and rich burghers, he was working for important patronage, working on important projects, he was reputable, respectable and laudable.

Monastery Church of Assumption of Our Lady at Sedlec by Kutná Hory, 1703-1708, first baroque-gothic project in our lands

Sedlec church, detail of roof vaulting and staircase

Even more details of Sedlec Church

In 1705 he bought Valkoun’s house in Neruda street, soon he joined it with the adjacent building By the Gold Chalice, using the buildings as his residence.

Valkoun’s house in Neruda street, Prague; Santini’s residence

Two years later he married daughter of his master Schröder Veronika Alžběta. They had four children, but all three sons died from tuberculosis at an early age; the only child left was Anna Veronika (* 1713).

Cistercian Monastery in Plasy, whole overview and detail of chapel roof and staircase

Spire of Monastery Church of Assumption of Our Lady, Kladruby by Stříbro, 1711-1721

After the death of Veronika he married noble lady Antonie Ignatie, so he had a close bound to noble community and clerical as well.

Daughter Jana Ludmila and son Jan Ignác Rochus were born from this marriage. Godfathers for these children were Santini’s maecenases from high aristocracy.

In December 1723 Santini died in Prague after longer illness and is burried in cemetary, which is abandonned in our days.

Santini’s work become to be more and more in the cynosure of  experts, historics of art and architecture, but also people without professional interest.

Monastery at Kladruby by Stříbro, and details of the Church interior, 1711-1721

His works attract by magnificent inner shapes perfectly corresponding with light expression and accustic game, he uses fearless and original technics.

Church of St. John of Nepomuk from 1735, Žďár nad Sázavou, original building and interier, see maquette of the whole complex on the top of this post

Between his works we can find big monastery complexes, churches, chapels, bigger or smaller palaces.

Pilgrim church of Our Lady in Mariánská Týnice, high baroque style, 1720

Santini had deep knowledge in mathematic, geometry, numerology, he was interested in religion and mystic sciences, as cabbala with accent to personal spiritual experience. And that’s what we can found at his work.

Castle Karlova Koruna (Charleses Crown) in Chlumec nad Cidlinou – Castle + chapel 1721-1723, maquette from Boheminium

The asteroid 37699 Santini-Aichl is named in his honour.

Travel theme: Transportation

The train is coming to the station

The train is coming to the station

This week Travel theme is Transportation, see link here. Despite the fact I prefer travelling on the ground, I chose to show you Prague subway. Prague subway is rather new, the first line (red one, called “C”) was opened in 1974 year in the lenght of 6.6 km and had 9 stations. See short movie taken during subway excursion inside of the Nusle Bridge, high bridge over the valley, through which the oldest route goes.

The next opened line was green line “A” in 1978 and the last one was yellow line “B” in 1985. Today the whole subway has 57 stations and it is 59.4 km long. Currently the newest stations are on the north side of “C” line. The next stations to be opened in few years, now under construction, are at the east side of “A” line going to the Prague Airport. Line “A” is the one that I will show you in this post, as it has some idea connecting the stations, which is the unified design consisiting of circles/hemispheres in different colors. Somewhere the hemispheres are bucktooth, somewhere they are bulging. The colors of the stations can help you with orientation.

Waiting for the train

Waiting for the train

On the plan of line A you see the blue points, which show us the stations with the unified design. The orange points are at the part of the line which is under construction. Plan of the line is taken from wiki.

Lina A map, source:wiki

Line A map, source: wiki

In the next gallery you see the stations designs which are east of the city center (Wenceslass Square), from Museum to Želivského.

Eastern stations

Eastern stations

The second gallery shows the west side of the line from bottom of Wenceslass Square Můstek (Bridge, named after the bridge over the moat that was guarding the borders of the Old Town), through Staroměstská (Old Town station), Malostranská (Little Quarter station) to Hradčanská (Castle District station), where Prague Castle is. This part of the line is the “touristic” one :-).

Western stations

Western stations


The last gallery is not from Prague, it is not even from Czech Republic (Prague is the only city with subway in the Czech Republic). I won’t tell which city it is, as the answer is a quiz for you. You can PM me (not write it to the comment, for contact see page Katy) the name of the city where you will find Metro Gallery seen on the pictures bellow. The last day to send me the city name is Dec 26, 2012. I will allot one of correct answers the next day (Dec 27, 2012) and the author will be awarded with a nice gift from Prague (when chosen I will ask him/her for the snail mail address). I’m looking forward to your answers!

Subway quiz.

Subway quiz.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate

For this week challenge I was considering the meaning of the word “delicate” a lot. First, it meant to me something fragile, elegant, soft, and then sweet, tasty. And finally I found out what I would write about: about our gingerbreads because they are delicate in all meanings of this word and we make them during Christmas Season, so it is the best topic for now :-).

It is very traditional to make small gingerbread cookies in all possible shapes and they are decorated with sugar icing. Families share the recipes and decoration styles, ladies are competing whose gingerbread would be nicer. One of the recipes can be found here.

However, as I bake neither gingerbreads nor even other traditional Czech Cookies (when you havebigger family who does 50 different kinds, you don’t have to participate, you just have to eat it :-)), I can’t put here any pictures from the preparation of the gingerbreads.  I wrote a post about Betlem Exhibition in Prague few days ago and now I will use some shots of gingerbreads from this exhibition as well.

Advent Wreath with 4 candles, waiting for Christmas in Advent time

Advent Wreath with 4 candles, waiting for Christmas in Advent time

Nativity scenes, but also St. Nicolas with Angel and Devils, another Advent tradition

Nativity scenes, but also St. Nicolas with Angel and Devils, another Advent tradition

GIngerbreads for your table and taste

Gingerbreads for your table and taste

Gingerbread Village

Gingerbread Village

Christmas Tree decorations

Christmas Tree decorations

Really piece of art

Real piece of art

GIngerbread forms . different shapes

Gingerbread forms – different shapes

How sold at Christmas Markets

How sold at Christmas Markets

Gingerbread motif used for Bank commercial :-)

Gingerbread motif used for Bank commercial, displey and envelope

My Post about Christmas:

Betlémy – nativity scenes
Christmas Market in Prague Old Town
Christmas Crafts Markets in Prague
Czech Christmas Ornaments (Rautis)
Traditional Gingerbreads
Christmas Wish 2012
Family Tradition – Fire-crackers

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