Goreme

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The village of Goreme is the undisputed capital of Cappadocia’s backpacker scene. Scores of tour groups operate out of Goreme, but the; city’s industry caters largely to the independent traveler. Surrounded by picturesque fairy chimneys, Göreme offers travelers no fewer than 64 pensions, mostly cave dwellings carved into the soft tufa.

Its central location makes it the best base for exploring Cappadocia, and the glorious Open Air Museum is only a short walk away. Despite the tourist traffic, Göreme has retained some of its small-town charm; apple çay offerings abound and an extended stay will probably earn you local friends. Be forewarned that visitors have been known to stay permanently in the majestic area; “once you’ve tasted Göreme’s water, you’re bound to come back,” foretells one local adage. The staggering number of foreign brides (locals say around 200) who’vc settled here suggests a different allure.

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TRANSPORTATION                        

Buses: Goreme’s otogar is in the center of town. Buses travel via Nevşehir to: Alanya (12hr., 8 per day noon-10:30pm, $16); Ankara (4hr., 9 per day 8:15am-midnight, $8); Antalya (10hr., 8 per day 6-10:30pm, $15); Bodrum (14hr.; 7:30, 9pm, midnight; $20); Bursa (10hr.; 5:30, 7:30pm; $16); Eğirdir (7hr., 6-10:30pin, $13); Fethiye (13hr., 8per day noon-10:30pm, $19.50); İstanbul (11 hr., 7 per day 8:30am-9pm, $16); İzmir (12hr., 6 per day 6:45-10pm, $16); Kayseri (1hr., every hour 7am-6:30pm, $3); Konya (3hr., 6 per day 8:15am-9pm, $7.30); Marmaris (14hr., 5 per day 8pm- midnight, $20); Mersin (5hr.; 8am, noon, 12:15, 10pm; $8); Olympos (12hr,, 8 per day 6-10:30pm, $19); Pamukkale (10hr., 4 per day 7:30pm-midnlght, $14); Selçuk (13hr., 6 per day 6:45pm-midnight, $19).

ORIENTATION AND PRACTICAL INFORMATION

Finding your way around Goreme is not difficult. The main road heads out west toward Nevşehir and noitheast toward Çavuşin. The otogar, just off the main road, is at tire eastern end of the town center. A smaller, cobblestone road runs south from the town center. At the eastern end of town, a road up to the Open Air Museum breaks off from the main road, heading southeast up a hill. Restaurants art1 mostly near the main road, and pensions are everywhere.

Cappadocia Balloons (271 24 42; fax 271 25 86), with an office next door to Cafe Docia, offers breathtaking 90min. balloon tours, a.k.a. “aerial nature walks,” through the Cappadocian landscape. Multilingual, professional pilots Kaili, Mike, and Lars fly as high as 700m and low enough to pick flowers. Balloons fly for lV2hr. with 8 or 12 passengers Apr.Nov. daily at dawn, weather permitting. They are fully insured and licensed, unlike some other balloon companies in the region. $210 per person, $230 if you pay by credit card; book at least two days in advance.

Banks: Next to the Open-Air Museum. Open daily 9am-5:30pm. There is an ATM in the center of Goreme, across from the otogar and to the left.

Laundromat: ( 271 25 79), behind the otogar, across from the Goreme Belediye Handicrafts Market. Wash and dry $7, with ironing $6. Open daily 9am-8pm.

Pharmacy: Kapadokya Pharmacy (271 21 37), on the main road near the hospital. Open daily 8am-8pm.

Medical Assistance: The Goreme Sağlık Ocağı Hospital (271 21 26), near the PIT, is actually a Community Health Clinic, but it also serves medical emergencies.

Internet Access: Cafe Docia; Flintstone’s Internet, next door to Fat Boy’s Bar; and Neşe Cafe. All open from around 8am until around 11pm and offer cold drinks and a few American-style keyboards to preserve your sanity.

PTT: Though many street-side stores offer PTT services (money exchange, stamps, phone cards), the official post office is on the main road just after the turn-off for the Open-Air Museum. Offers the best exchange rate in town. Open daily 8:30am-12:30pm and l:30-5:30pm.

Postal code: 50180.

ACCOMMODATIONS & CAMPING         

Under Goreme’s government, all pensions have fixed minimum, prices for non dormitory rooms: $5 per person, with bath $7, and up to $10 for a single. Establishments designated as starred hotels may charge higher rates. Hit the tourist, office (see above) for more complete comparative information on all of Goreme’s accommodations, most of which will provide transportation to their establishments if you call ahead. A few pensions accept credit cards, but all of them, like every business in Goreme, strongly prefer that you pay in cash or traveler’s checks.

Kelebek Pension (271 25 31; fax: 271 27 63) upholds its reputation as a clean, comfortable, and very well-run pension. Just uphill from Kookabura and Tuna Caves, Kelebek offers cave, fairy chimney, and regular rooms. Each of the several levels of terrace has spectacular views of Goreme and the surrounding valleys. Lounge with satellite TV and English news. Late- arrivals room, complete with shower, open 24hr. for guests wishing to check in the next morning. Dorms $4; fairy chimney rooms $12, with shower $18; super-deluxe $50.  El! Tuna Caves Pension (271 26 81) Heading from the otogar, take the first right after the ATM and follow the signs. New owners totally refurbished Tuna Caves in 2001 with 17 rooms in an old Greek house. The stone courtyard offers a fireplace and a shady kilimed lounge area with a stereo. The terrace has a great view. (Cave and non-cave rooms $6, some with shower; dorms $4; deluxe $23).

Special Cave Pension (271 23 47) is the coziest cave pension in town and has clean, private showers in every room. The friendly staff, kilimed terrace, and plush cave bar make this a fun stay. $7 per person.

Köse Pansiyon (271 22 94; fax 271 25 77), just behind the PTT. Makeshift Ottoman divans, vine-covered ceilings, swimming pool, ying yang murals, and helpful Scottish Turkish owners make Köse quite backpacker friendly. Breakfast $2. Vegetarian and 4- course dinners $4, 2 dorm rooms with mattresses on the floor ($4 per person; bring your own sleeping bag, if possible) and 13 rooms, some with private bath.

Peri Pansiyon (271 21 36; fax 271 27 30). On the right, walking east on the road to the Open-Air Museum. Lounge on the sunny, floral courtyard. Tame atmosphere but close to the action at Flintstone’s. 4-course dinner ($5) on the wood-panelled kilimed terrace. 7 cave rooms. Friendly management also offers nontufa rooms to suit your taste. Singles $7, with bath $10; doubles $20. Cave singles $10, luxury caves $25.  Ufuk Motel and Pension (271 21 57; fax 271 25 78). Next door to Paradise on Goreme Open-Air Museum Way, Ufuk offers 4 cave rooms, 3 with private showers. 11 regular rooms, some with private showers. Garden, wood, and furnished dining terrace with a great view and a dartboard. Laundry $4. Complete dinner $6. Singles $10; doubles $18.

Goreme Dilek Camping (271 23 96). Across from Peri Pansiyon. Vast, floral campsite and pool snuggled among phallic rocks. $4.50 per site, $3 per person, $8 per tent, $10 per caravan.

Kaya Camping (343 31 00; fax 343 39 84). Walk 5-10 min. uphill from the museum. A superb vista of the opposite valley. Kitchen, pool, and private showers. The environmentally aware will appreciate its solar power. $3 per person, $1.50 per tent.

Local Restaurant, On the right as you turn onto the road heading to the Open-Air Museum. A recent addition to Goreme’s dinning choices, the Turkish crafts and wooden furniture give Local a touch of tradition, and the house specialties are Turkish dishes unique among Goreme’s restaurants. Like most tourist establishments in town, Local stays open as long as it has guests.

Orient Restaurant (fax 271 23 46). A local favorite opposite Yüksel Motel and Cafe Docia. Charming furniture complements wood floors and cave atmosphere of this restaurant and bar. The sac tava is a musttiy house specialty ($4). Entrees and vegetarian dishes $3-4. 5-course daily special $5. Open 7:30am until crowds leave, usually lam. O

Cafe Docia; To the left as you exit the otogar on the road toward Nevşehir. Mammoth burgers ($3), good beer ($3-5), and good times make this a young backpacker hotspot. Blaring Ameri/Euro pop draws nightly crowds. A big-screen TV shows American channels and movies during the day. Internet $2 per hr. Opens 8am for breakfast and closes when the partying ends, usually around 2 or 3am.

Sedef Restaurant {271 23 56). On the left as you head out of Goreme on Bilal Eroglu Cad. The front porch of the Sedef restaurant is a comfortable place to enjoy some of the best traditional food in town. The bulging stuffed eggplant is sure to please ($1.50), and the local sez player and drummer who frequent Sedef during the summer months make meals all the more enjoyable.

Fat Boys Bar. The newest bar in town. Its good music, central location in the town’s promenade, and cheap happy hour (2 big local beers for $1) have made it an instant success. Backpackers (especially Aussies) often keep Fat Boys fun into the wee hours.

Pacha Bar (271 23 40). Well-situated in the middle of Goreme’s central promenade and marked by celestial murals, Pacha is often the busiest bar in town. Back to back Simpsons, Southpark and Friends episodes play every day from 6-8pm and English language films also play in the earlier afternoons. Enjoy beer ($1) or mixed drinks ($3) at the bar or on cushioned benches. Open until business ends.

Wendy’s Wine House (271 26 60). Across the canal from Sedef Restaurant, downhill from the otogar. Come in, sit down, and stay a while. Without spending a lot, you can hear some great live folk music, relax with a hookah, and drink some tasty local and import wines. Waterpipe $4; beer $1; a glass of local wine about $3.

Flinstones Bar (271 22 48). A revamped caveat the turnoff for the Open-Air Museum. “Raki is the answer; I don’t remember the question.” Fans of Britpop will delight in the DJ’s discerning taste. Beer $2. Open until the party ends, around 3am.

SIGHTS

GOREME OPEN AIR MUSEUM

From Goreme village, follow Open-Air Museum Way about 2km east, walking uphill. Open year round 8am-5pm. $5.25. Dark Church $10.

Goreme Open Air Museum

Goreme Open Air Museum

With seven Byzantine churches, a convent, and a kitchen/refectory, the Open-Air Museum is a delight to history, art, and religion buffs. In the 4th century, St. Basil foimded one of the first Christian monasteries here, setting down religious tenets that influenced the teachings of St. Benedict and, subsequently, the entire Western monastic tradition. Monasticism ended in the 15th century under Turkish rule. From then until the 1923 Population Exchange, the Greeks and Turks used the old churches to store apples, potatoes, and hay. Today, the remains offer tourists an array of Cappadocia’s most spectacular frescoes. On weekends, the museum bustles with tourists. 

 

BASIL CHURCH

The empty tufa ditches underfoot were once graves in this early Christian monastery. Though only saints could be buried inside monasteries, the wealthy could buy monastic burials and thus (supposedly) pave their way to pardise. If you use a flashlight and magnifying glass, the artist’s fingerprints are just visible on the church’s 10th-century frescoes.

ÇARIKLI KİLİSE (SANDAL CHURCH)

Çarıklı Kilise earns its name from the footprints below the church’s back wall, supposed molds of Jesus’ feet. Unfortunately for local mythology, the church only dates from the 11th century.

YILANLI KİLİSE (DRAGON CHURCH)

To the right of the entrance, note the area’s best-preserved fresco, depicting St. George slaying the dragon. This building is also known as St. Onuphrius Church after its fresco of the hermaphroditic looking figure of St. Onuphrius. One popular legend claims that the Egyptian girl Onophirios was so beautiful that she could not drive away all the men seeking to ravish her. She prayed for assistance and was granted a long white beard and moustache, which solved all her problems. Another tale tells of St. Onuphrius, who belonged to a 4th-century commune of Egyptian hermits. When a certain St. Paphnutius visited the commune, he was impressed by the moral fervor and self- control of Onuphrius, who is therefore depicted with a beard to represent wisdom. The seemingly full breasts show the artist’s technique for depicting strong soldiers; similar “breasts” can be found on many fresco figures, including Jesus.

KARANLIK KİLİSE (DARK CHURCH)

Light filters through a tiny window in the narthex, preserving a set of breathtaking frescoes. By far the most impressive artwork in the museum, its walls depict a number of scenes of Jesus, including His birth, entrance to Bethlehem, Transfiguration, Crucifixion and Resurrection. The dome also houses a rare fresco of a teenage Jesus. Watch your head walking in.

OTHER SIGHTS

NEARBY CHURCHES

A ticket to the Open-Air Museum will also admit you to a number of nearby churches. The first, Tokalı, is right outside the museum’s entrance and contains three smaller churches and a chapel. Behind the Tokalı Church, about 250m from the entrance, are the Church of Mother Mary and the 10th- century Church of St. Eustathios. Aynalı is across from Kaya Camping, GOOm uphill from the museum entrance. To reach Saklı and El Nazar, hike 500m uphill to the right from the museum’s entrance. Unless you really have a fresco fetish and don’t mind asking around for a key, these last churches may not be worth I he hike.

KARŞIBUCAK YUSUF KOÇ KİLİSESİ

 If you’re up for a half-hour’s diversion while in Goreme, the Karşıbucak Yusuf Koç Kilisesi is a pleasant visit. Enjoy reasonably well-preserved frescoes as well as a terrific view of (¡öreme and the surrounding area. (Keeping the canal on the left from the bus station, take a right on the road just beyond Ottoman House. (The second left off this road leads up a hill and loll to the church is Free.)

HIKING          

Cappadocia’s breathtaking landscape is a hiker’s seventh heaven. It’s best to start early, as the midday sun can be brutal. Though most of I lie hikes are moderate, safe, and accessible, Let’s Go recommends hiking with partners, tour groups, or guides in order to hit all sights, stay safe, and navigate trickier areas. Women traveling alone should especially consider these options, as long, empty trails may cause unease and detract from the hike. Wear hiking boots and long pants to protect your legs from prickly shrubbery.

Some of the best hikes can be found by straying off the road that leads to the Open Air Museum. About 10 minutes into the walk to the museum, you will see a sign for the

Sword Valley; This valley is by far the closest, easiest and least-toured valley around Goreme. You will probably have I lie place to yourself and will be able to explore hundreds of cave ruins scattered around farming plots. Further up the road, Sunset Point is about 1km past the museum. Take a left on the dirt road by Kaya Camping, turn left again at the next paved road, and walk for about 3km. The entrance fee ($.60) is a bit criminal, as there are better, free views. But from here, you can descend into the Kirmizi Vadl (Red Valley), whose bizarre, multi-colored rock formations make this one of the area’s better hikes. The complete Rose Valley hike is 14km long, but there are points of ascent and exit about 3km and 7km into the trek. For the shorter hikes, transportation arrangement (taxi or tour group is your best bet) is necessaiy, since dolmuş don’t pass by. The full hike will bring you to Çavuşin in an horn- or two. Take the Avanos-Nevşehir bus or the Avanos- Zelve-Goreme-Ürgüp minibus back to Goreme (every 30min. until 6pm; weekends every hr.). A taxi from Çavuşin to Goreme costs about $5.

PIGEON VALLEY (WHITE VALLEY/BAGLIY)

Pigeon Valley can be reached by following the canal west of the otogar. This destination earns its name from the bird houses carved into its cliffs. According to local folklore, humans and fairies lived together peacefully in the valley until a human and a fairy fell in love. The forbidden romance sparked a war that drove the fairies from the valley forever, transforming them into pigeons. As a gesture of reconciliation, guilt-ridden humans built birdhouses to lure the fairy-pigeons back. The birdhouses also serve a more practical purpose, as the bird droppings arc used as fertilizer, particularly for Cappadocia’s famous wine and pekmez making grapes. Pigeon Valley is a confusing hike, as roads become paths, paths become streams, and streams disappear quite frequently. Just be persistent, respect the many gardening patches, and you’ll eventually wind up in Üçhisar.

LOVE VALLEY

Located to the north of Goreme, this gorge is affectionately known as “Penis Valley” because of the phallic rock formations that would give even Grade A pom stars a complex. To get there, take a left on the dirt road at the onyx factoiy on the road to Goreme. Walk about 400m and descend on the right into the valley. You’re best off hiking the valley’s center, as tufa may crumble underfoot. When in doubt, follow the creek heading northeast and after a couple of hours you’ll inevitably end up in Çavuşin. About 1 km into the hike, a small ridge divides the valley in two; steer left and the looming penises are hard to miss.

ÜÇHİSAR

The highest point in Cappadocia, Üçhisar’s hidden treasure is its mesmerizing twilight; the “Ancient Village Walking Road” winds in a horseshoe to the town’s kale (castle), offering visitors a calming panoramic view of the valley and its sunset.

TRANSPORTATION AND PRACTICAL INFORMATION

The Goreme-Nevşehir bus (every 30min., $.70) stops at the road junction less than 1km away from the gigantic fort, which gives the town its name (Üçhisar means “fort on the tip”). No commercial traffic runs through the tiny town center, where you can find the Üçhisar Eczane (pharmacy; a 219 25 00). To get to the town center, simply walk uphill (to your left if you arrive from Goreme) along the main road at tire junction where the Dolmuş lets you off.

ACCOMMODATIONS

Üçhisar’s accommodations are generally grouped either in the town square (walk down the Ancien Village WTalking Road, turn left onto any side street and turn left, again into town) or on the road below the kale on the opposite side from the tourist entrance. With the entrance to the kale directly behind you, head down the road in front of you. Erclyes Pansiyon 0 is on the right, about 400 yards up. Enjoy warm, family ambiance under the shade of cherry trees.

All 12 rooms come with private bath. Try the homemade pekmez. (219 20 90. Breakfast included. $8 per person.) At the end of the street downhill from La Maison Du Reve, is Le Jardín de 1001 Nuits , with numerous shower-equipped fairy chimney rooms and a kilimed tree house to relax in. (219 22 93; fax 219 25 05. Breakfast included. Dorms $6; singles $11; with a nice view $15.) La Terraces De Üçhisar  is the first of many pensions on the cobblestone road behind and below the kale and is a great value with very comfortable, well-furnished, clean rooms. A beautiful old house rebuilt by the French owners into a rather large pension, La Terraces offers live folk music, cave rooms, arched rooms, and regular rooms. (Singles $19; doubles $20.) A little further down the hill is La Malson Du Reve , a pension with some of the best views in Cappadocia. There are several terraces, due to the fact that the pension is built into the steep side of the mountain of Üçhisar. ($10 per person. Breakfast included.)

FOOD AND ENTERTAINMENT

At the ğOase Cafe & Bar , below the kale’s valley facade, nightfall is a spectator event. Outdoor tables and a charming mix of Turkish and Texas-style decor makes this the perfect spot to sip a beer under the sinking sun. (219 27 60; Beer and rakı $1.60.) Under a canopy of trees in the town center, the Centre Café and Restaurant  (219 21 11) is one of the only places in Central Anatolia where you’ll find hot dogs ($1) in addition to your standard Turkish meat meals ($2-4). The Duyurgan Winery, on the same road, produces some of Cappadocia’s best wines. Enjoy free wine tasting and a tour of the winery’. (219 29 79. Open 8am-8:30pm.)

SIGHTS

The Üçhisar kale, used as a castle until the 14th century, is now Üçhisar’s only commercial tourist attraction. Looming high above Cappadocia, it makes for a great climb. (Open 9am-7:30pm, $1.) Üçhisar is also the starting point of a number of good hikes, including Love Valley (see Hiking, p. 346). Head toward Goreme and turn left on the dirt road at the onyx factory. Walk about 400m and descend on the right into Love Valley you’ll be in Çavuşin in a couple of hours.

UNDERGROUND CITIES: KAYMAKLI AND DERİNKUYU

By dolmuş, Kaymaklı and Derinkuyu are about 30min. and 45min. from Goreme, respec-tively, with a connection in Nevşehir. From Goreme, dolmuş run to Nevşehir (every 30min. 6:30am-7pm, $.50) and then go to Kaymaklı ($.60) and Derinkuyu ($.80). Both sites open daily 8am-5pm. Each site $3.75.

Although Cappadocia encompasses almost 30 underground cities carved from tufa, Kaymaklı and Derinkuyu are the largest. The earliest written mention of Hellenic communities in Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı appears in Xenophon’s Anabasis, which dates them to at least the 4th century BC. Some think the cities began as cave dwellings that were later used by the Hittites for storage and ambushes. Between the 5th and 10th centuries, the Byzantines expanded them into full- fledged cities that shielded people from Iconoclast and Sassanid raids.

These underground complexes were designed with mind-boggling ingenuity. Low and narrow passages, easily blocked off by massive millstones, hindered prospective invaders. Wineries consisted of a tub-like area for grape stomping and a chute that carried the juice into another tub for fermenting. The holes drilled in some pillars suggest that the underground inhabitants enforced strict discipline by chaining and torturing transgressors. It was forbidden for anyone to leave while the cities were occupied, lest their departure give away the hideouts. Strangely enough, no evidence of a permanent settlement has been conclusively found in either Derinkuyu or Kaymaklı.

Derinkuyu, 45m deep with a 55m well, is slightly more impressive than Kaymaklı. With eight levels open to the public, Derinkuyu has sizeable rooms and halls, good lighting, and relatively easy access. Kaymaklı, smaller than Derinkuyu at 35m below ground, boasts a more complex structure. The village has been built around the underground city, so residents could enter storage areas through tunnels in their courtyards. It was common for underground cities to use tunnels for intercity water transport. Rumor has it that a similar Cappadocian tunnel, used for escape rather than carrying water, runs the 9km between Kaymakli and Derinkuyu. In both sites, red arrows lead down, blue arrows up. Although all explorable areas are lit, a flashlight may come in handy, especially because the generator that lights the caves fails every once in a while and can leave the caves pitch-black for minutes at a time. Also, be sure not to miss the Hard Rock Cafe on the second story of Kaymakli where a happy old chap will serve you drinks or a water pipe in one of the nicely kilimed cave alcoves.

ÇAVUŞİN-ZELVE

The provincial village of Çavuşin may lack Goreme’s glory’, but it teems with traditional flavor. About 2km down the road from Goreme (heading toward Zeive), this inviting town offers weary travelers a glimpse of village life. Tourists in Çavuşin may stumble upon a local wedding, be invited to eat manti (Turkish ravioli) in a villager’s home, or simply enjoy close proximity to the area’s best hikes. Çavuşin’s old village originally consisted of Greek dwellings hewn into the surrounding cliffs, made uninhabitable by erosion and earthquakes. These deserted buildings and tufa houses, around which the new village is clustered, make for rewarding exploring. The worn cliffs and caves provide extraordinary valley views. Both the Ürgüp- Avanos minibus and the Goreme-Avanos bus pass through Çavuşin.

While better as a daytrip from Goreme or Ürgüp, Çavuşin does have a few good pensions. The newly-renovated Turbel Motel O offers sizeable rooms with nifty log- beam ceilings and one of the most splendid panoramas of the area: a sprawling green valley to one side and the haunting old village to the other. Accommodating francophone owner, Mustafa Kaygisiz, organizes camping trips in the Taurus Mountains. (532 70 84; fax 532 70 83. Dinner $5. Breakfast included. Singles $10; doubles $18.) The Green Motel , up from the main road and just past the town square, has pricey rooms with bath and a sitting room with Ottoman decor. (532 72 28. Singles $20; doubles $30.) A campsite is also available for $5 per tent. For more affordable digs, the nearby Panorama Pension  (532 70 02) offers comfortable rooms with shared bath for $6.50. Dinner at the adjacent restaurant is $4.

The under-visited 5th-century Church of St. John the Baptist, the oldest known church in Cappadocia, can be reached by following the town’s main road past the old village and climbing either the hill or the tufa and rocks. The climb is worth the view’, even though the frescoes arc barely visible.

The 10th-century’ Çavuşin Church, on the main road beside the turnoff to the village (look for the steps leading up to the rock face), has some well-preserved frescoes. (Open daily 8am-5pm. $2.)

The Zelve Open-Air Museum, consisting of churches and homes carved into three deep valleys, will appeal more to the adventurer than to the art historian. There are very few surviving frescoes, but the complex of tunnels and caves provides hours of gleeful (if tricky) climbing, burrowing, and exploring. The dull way to reach the museum is to take the Ürgüp-Avanos minibus one stop from Çavuşin. With an extra hour or two, you can follow the main road past Çavuşin, take a right up the dirt road behind the pottery shop, and continue to climb for a magnificent ridge w’alk (beware the heights). (Open daily 8am-5:30pm. $4.) Alternatively, descend into Paşabağ Valley (Monk’s Valley, marked by the street-side shopping lVákm west of Zelve Museum), which is punctuated by mushroom-shaped rock formations and unique three-headed chimneys.

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