Read about the city

The beautiful Capitole is the center of the charming metropolis of Toulouse, which is located on the banks of the River Garonne. Beautiful, red brick buildings, large churches, museums and the Garonne bridges are great sights to see in the city. It is worth visiting it to experience both culture and history.

Toulouse's waterways are interesting. The city is located in the Midi area between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, and the Canal du Midi canal starts from the river Garonne right here on its way towards the Mediterranean. The shoreline on the banks provides beautiful walks through large parts of Toulouse, and along the Garonne itself the stroll is also very nice as well.

Old buildings are all over the center of Toulouse, but modern technology is also clearly present in the city, where the aviation company Airbus has an assembly plant and where the Cité de l'Espace brings visitors close to space with an exhibition of rockets and other interesting things from space exploration.

Toulouse's location in the south of France is characterized by a mild climate and a beautiful countryside in the surrounding area; from the mountains in the south to the lovely beaches of the Mediterranean to the east; and several old fortresses and cozy towns are located in the region with many sights to see.

Other attractions

Capitol Donjon, Toulouse

  • Capitol Donjon/Donjon du Capitole: There is a large tower immediately behind the building Le Capitole. It was built in the 1520s on the initiative of the city council, which was to use the special building to house the city's archives.
  • Capitol Square/Place du Capitole: Place du Capitole is the heart of Toulouse. It is a large square in the middle of the city's old town. The square arose when the city's capitouls bought properties to lay out the beautiful setting for Le Capitole.
  • The Augustins Museum (Museum of Fine Arts)/Musée des Augustins (Musée des Beaux-arts): This is an old Augustinian church from the 14th century, which since 1795 has been an art museum for various art.

Pont Neuf, Toulouse

  • Pont-Neuf: Pont-Neuf is the most famous of Toulouse's bridges over the river Garonne, and despite its name, it is the oldest of the city's river bridges. It was built in the years 1544-1632, and it is best seen from the water on one of the city's popular boat trips.
  • Museum of Old Toulouse/Musee du Vieux Toulouse: This is Toulouse's city history museum and thus the place where you can explore the city's past and learn more about, for example, the cultural development, buildings, etc.
  • Conventual complex of the Jacobins/Ensemble conventuel des Jacobins: The Dominican complex is the name of Toulouse's mighty church with its monastery buildings. Here you can see Thomas Aquinas' tomb as the most visited place.

Halle aux Grains, Toulouse

  • Grains Hall/Halle aux Grains: Halle aux Grains was from 1864 Toulouse's place of trade for grain. After no longer being a grain exchange, the place was converted into a sports hall in 1952, before the building became the concert hall it still is.
  • Botanical Garden/Jardin des Plantes: The Jardin des Plantes in Toulouse is both a beautifully landscaped park and a botanical garden, whose history in the city dates back to 1730. Here are fine fountains, hiking trails and several buildings around the garden.
  • St Stephen Cathedral/Cathédrale Saint-Étienne: The Cathédrale Saint-Étienne is the seat of the Archbishop of Toulouse and thus the Catholic center of the city. The church was built in Romanesque style, but has since been expanded with a Gothic choir and constructions.

Canal de Brienne, Toulouse

  • Brienne Canal/Canal de Brienne: Canal de Brienne is a canal that connects the Garonne river with the Canal du Midi, which leads to the Mediterranean. The canal was inaugurated in 1776, and there is a lock at each end of the 1,500 meter / 5,118 foot long waterway.
  • Midi Canal/Canal du Midi: Canal du Midi is a 240-kilometer/149-mile-long canal that, together with the Garonne river and the Canal de Garonne, connects the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean for waterway transport. It starts right here in Toulouse.

Space City, Toulouse

  • Space City/Cité de l'Espace: The Cité de l’Espace is a theme park about space and its exploration through time. Here are, among other things, replicas and models of spacecraft such as Mir and Soyuz.
  • Airbus: Together with Boeing from the USA, European Airbus is the world's largest manufacturer of civil aircraft. You can visit the Airbus factory, where you get close to the production of aircraft and hear about the development of the large aircraft.
History overview

    [expand title="Read about city history" id="historie2" swaptitle="Hide content"]
    The beginning
    Archaeological evidence has been found that there were already settlements in Toulouse in the 7th century BC. The location has been favorable, as the Garonne River just had a wad here where the water could be crossed.

    Thereby the settlement was located centrally between the Atlantic to the west, the Mediterranean to the east and the Pyrenees to the south. And besides, there was a large area that could be cultivated.

    The settlement was a little to the south compared with today, and in time it became a town called Tolosa; a name that, despite many different conquering peoples, has been retained and made into today's Toulouse.

    The first settlers are believed to be non-Indo-European descended from the present Aquitaine. Later, Celts arrived with the people volcae, who eventually dominated the city and its early development. Gallic became the dominant language and Tolosa became their capital. The city was one of the most powerful in Gaul, and its wealth was famous.

    Roman times

    The Romans started their conquest of Gaul in 125 BC, and they founded the colony of Narbo Martius, today's Narbonne, in the year 118 BC.

    Tolosa chose to ally with the Romans, who with the agreement established a fort north of the city. It was close to Tolosa's trade routes and also near the border with the independent Aquitania.

    In 109 BC reached the cymbals, whose migration had begun in Jutland, to the now-defunct province of the Romans on the Mediterranean coast; Provincia. They overcame the Romans, and Tolosa rebelled and killed the Roman garrison.

    In 106 BC the Romans had regained their strength, and they were regaining the lost land of the new province. Tolosa was to be taken and punished for their rebellion, and Roman General Quintus Servilius Caepio seized the city and its great wealth. Tolosa now became part of the Roman province with Narbo Martius as its capital.

    From the area around Tolosa, Rome and Caesar were able to conquer Aquitania to the west, and with the whole of Gaul under Roman control, Tolosa was no longer militarily interesting, but it was commercially sound, and it brought new development.

    The Romans decided to move the city to the north to a location on the eastern shore of Garonne, and there the city remains today. This happened around year 0 and a Roman city with straight streets was established. The inhabitants of Tolosa were forced to relocate, and the old Tolosa was abandoned.

    City walls around Tolosa were built on the initiative of Emperor Augustus, who would create a large and powerful city at the site where the Roman road, Via Aquitania, crossed Garonne. City walls at that time were not normal for Roman cities, but a special indication of the importance of a city.

    Tolosa flourished and became one of the most important cities of the Roman Empire and came to enjoy several privileges from the emperors.

    Chief Marcus Antonius Primus was from Tolosa, and he led Vespasian troops to Rome in the year 69, and with Vespasian the Flavian dynasty came to power. Vespasian's son became Emperor Domitian, and conferred on Tolosa the fine status of the Roman colony as well as the nickname of Palladia.

    In Palladia Tolosa, after Roman examples, among other things, theater, circus, aqueducts, terms, sewerage and forum were one of the region's leading cities, and it was protected behind the city walls.

    In the twentieth century there were invasions in Gaul, but here Tolosa's position was far removed from the borders, so after destruction around Gaul, Tolosa was the fourth largest city in the western part of the Roman Empire; greater were only Rome, Trier and Arles.

    Christianity came to Tolosa during the Roman period in the twentieth century, and the Christian congregation grew under the city's first bishop; Saturn, who was later sainted after suffering martyrdom in the year 250.

    Rome's defeat to the West Goths in the year 410 also led to the end of Tolosa's time during Rome. In 413, the Western Goths, under King Ataulf, conquered the city. The Goths, however, were forced to retreat by Roman troops, but at a peace settlement in 418 Aquitania and Palladia Tolosa became the West Gothic, and they the city as their capital.

    The West Gothic era
    The West Gothic kings settled in Tolosa, and they were at peace with the West Roman Empire in the allies of 418 Rome.

    At the beginning of this era, the West Goths helped Rome defeat Germanic tribes that had invaded the region. They used it to successfully expand the West Gothic Kingdom based in Tolosa.

    However, the Western Goths would also expand the kingdom to the Mediterranean, thus occupying the remaining part of the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis. They attacked from 436, where the Roman general Litorius, with the help of the Central Asian females, won and ended up besieging Tolosa in 439.

    However, in 455, Tolosa and Rome signed a new peace treaty with Rome so that they could collectively repel a threatening female invasion. Avitus had been sent from Rome, and in the meanwhile vandals had plundered Rome, and Emperor Petronius Maximus had been killed.

    The West Gothic King Theodoric II proclaimed in Tolosa Avitus a new emperor in July 455. Avitus was deposed the following year, which led the West Goths to fight with the Romans, whose kingdom was continually weakening. In 462, the western Goths were able to occupy the Mediterranean coast, making Tolosa's kingdom even greater.

    In 475, King Eurik officially broke with Rome, and the kingdom of Tolosa was now independent, extending over time over large parts of Gaul and the Iberian Peninsula; from the Loire Valley in the north to Gibraltar in the south.

    Franks from the North and Muslims from the South
    When the West Gothic Empire was at its peak, Tolosa was the capital of the largest empire ruled by the city. At the same time, the Franks north of the Loire were strengthened; not least as they transitioned to Catholicism, which strengthened their greater from the powerful church.

    The Franks attacked, and the West Goths suffered a significant defeat at the Battle of Vouillé in 507. It was here that the Franks established themselves as the French, while the West Goths were strangers on Frankish soil. In 508, the Franks conquered Aquitaine and Tolosa, which became Toulouse and part of Aquitaine. Time as a capital was over for a few years.

    After the death of Frankish King Klodevig Is in 511, the kingdom of France was ruled as a patchwork by local kings, all struggling to unify the kingdom. It was a time of anarchy and decline in Toulouse, which was on the outskirts of the kingdom, but Aquitaine's small interest among the kings also enabled a new independence.

    The Frankish kings had delegated power in Aquitaine to dukes, who in 680 merged with the Duchy of Vasconia. Toulouse became the new capital of the new and independent Duchy of Aquitaine.

    At the beginning of the 7th century, Muslims invaded the Iberian Peninsula. They conquered Narbonne in 719 from the West Goths, and then they would conquer Aquitaine. In 721, they besieged Toulouse for three months. The town was close to falling, but which came back to Duke Odo of Aquitaine with the help he had come to find. In the Battle of Toulouse on June 9, 721, Odo won a major victory, destroying the Arab advance to the west.

    Odo later allied himself with the Muslim leader in Catalonia, Munuza. When Andalusian-Muslim leader Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi won over Munuza, Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi with his army went west over the Pyrenees and defeated the armies of Odo around Bordeaux. Odo had no choice but to ask the real king over the three Frankish kingdoms, Karl Martell, for help.

    Karl Martell assembled an army that met the Muslim Arabs at Poitiers. On October 10, 732, the Battle of Poitiers led to the victory of the Christian Franks over the Muslim Arabs, and Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi was killed on the battlefield. The battle became the turning point for Islamic and Arab advancement in Western Europe.

    Odo had to recognize the Frankish rule in the area, while Odo's successors actively opposed it. Their resistance and the Muslims' final defeat north of the Pyrenees at Narbonne in 759 turned the military interest of France against Aquitaine and Toulouse. After eight years of war, Aquitaine and Toulouse fell in 768.

    With Charles the Great as Frankish King, a policy was initiated in which newly conquered land was established with local rulers deployed directly by the King. It should ensure loyalty to France; a loyalty that contradicted Aquitaines' desire and quest for independence.

    In Toulouse, a Frankish count was deployed, and the city experienced a solid growth under Karl the Great. Militarily, the city was fortified and used as a starting point for attacks on Muslim Arabs south of the Pyrenees. After Karl the Store's death in 814, the reigns changed and Aquitaine became a kingdom.

    Decline of France
    By the end of the 8th century, Toulouse had become a county which was formally subordinate to the French king, but which effectively operated independently. During these centuries, Toulouse's sphere of influence was defined from the Toulouse to the river Rhône in the east, and that designation went all the way to the French Revolution under the name Languedoc.

    Toulouse's time as part of Aquitaine was finally over, and the 9th century brought chaotic states of government to France, which experienced its greatness under Charlemagne.

    The kingdom was divided into countless autonomous units, where only a small area, a single town or a few villages were controlled. It was a situation far from the order and focus on cultural and educational development that had existed during Rome. The Countess of Toulouse was no exception; in the 9th century, they had control over only a few parts of their former country.

    With the chaotic conditions, alien invasions also came again. The Muslim leaders in Cordoba sent invading forces against the Christian kingdoms in the north, and the armies reached Toulouse in the 920s without the city falling. In 924, madjars reached from east Toulouse, where they were defeated by Count Raymond III Pons.

    It was a downturn for France, but in some ways Toulouse was better equipped for the future than the northern French regions. To a certain extent, the laws and lifestyles of the Roman Empire continued to apply in Toulouse.

    New governance and times of growth
    The 1000-1100s first brought religious riots in Toulouse and then a Christian renaissance and significant development in the city and the surrounding area. New church buildings shot up and technical development meant better economy for agriculture.

    Toulouse, which, compared to many contemporary cities, had not expanded significantly over the centuries with moving the city walls further and further, also created new neighborhoods during this time. Saint-Cyprien on the west bank of the Garonne is an example, and it was connected to Toulouse in1181 by a bridge across the river. Existing neighborhoods also developed and expanded greatly.

    In the middle of the 12th century, the monarchical rule of counties ceased. The start of the change came with Count Raymond IV's participation in the Christian Crusade, which led to an account of the succession.

    Instead, the decisions of the board were transferred to a city council of leading people; the so-called capitouls, of which there were eight. Their first decision is dated 1152, and they each represented its own district in the city.

    In 1190, the city's capitouls, of which there were now 24, erected the first civilian government building; Capitole. This happened despite the attempts of French kings to interfere, and the form of government continued more or less unchanged in the following centuries.

    In the 11th century, Catharism emerged in Languedoc, and it came to play a role in the 13th century. It was a religious movement that included both Christian and Gnostic elements, and it was condemned by the Catholic Church.

    In the 1210s, Catholicism was strong in Toulouse, and a number of Christian sieges were to break the movement and at the same time the local nobility. Simon de Montfort unsuccessfully besieged the city in 1211, but he returned and captured it in 1216, where he proclaimed himself the Count of Toulouse. In 1217, the legitimate Count, Raymond VI, returned and regained his city. Simon de Montfort returned with an army the following year and was killed by a stone thrown by the city's defenders.

    The result of the sieges was that Raymond VI recognized the loyalty and support of the inhabitants and thereby also finally accepted the government with capitouls in the city.

    Political autonomy ended to some extent in the 13th century. With the Paris Treaty of 1229 between Raymond VII of Toulouse and the French King Louis IX, the Albigian Crusade halted against Catholicism. It brought calm to the city, and a Parisian model university was established.

    With the death of Raymond VII in 1249, Toulouse passed to the French king, thereby weakening the city's capitouls politically. The 13th century also brought many Christian orders to Toulouse such as the Dominicans. Parallel to this, the Inquisition in the city started, and it continued for several centuries with Toulouse as its home.

    New development in the 1400s and 1500s
    Over the centuries, Toulouse experienced alternating ups and downs. The expansion was present, but events such as the Great Fire in 1463 caused major devastation in some neighborhoods, with the population subsequently decimated.

    Lack of food and a worn-out street network also stagnated in the 14th century, but the progress came with more inhabitants and increased production. For example, the plant became a successful commodity that complemented the city's thriving textile production.

    The trade created fortunes in Toulouse, where merchants and manufacturers built many of the distinguished mansions that still characterize the city center; such as the magnificent residence of Pierre d'Assézat.

    Earnings on the scales did not last, as the more colorful indigo gradually flowed to Europe from India. In addition to trade, there was also cultural growth in Toulouse. Side by side with the active Inquisition, the city's university had nearly 10,000 students in the mid-1500s, and it was intellectually contagious in urban life.

    The backlash was the persecution of the Catholic Church by people who took Martin Luther's Protestant thoughts. It started at the university in 1532, and in the same year Jean de Caturce was burned in the city and thereby transferred to the status of one of the first Protestant martyrs in France.

    In the 1540s and 1550s the settlement between the Catholic Church and the Reformed Church accelerated. Wealthy citizens and parts of the nobility took on the Protestant thoughts, thereby threatening the established system governed by the Catholic Church.

    Politically, there were also tensions in the city with a centuries-long tradition of a system based on local capitouls facing the French parliamentary system that had been introduced in Toulouse in 1420.

    In 1562, tensions in the Toulouse revolt were triggered between members of the Catholic Church and members of the Reformed Church. Up to 5,000 citizens died during the uprising, which became a warning of impending religious wars in France.

    Henry IV became French king in 1589, and with his background as a Protestant and later Catholic, his coming created political and religious tranquility in Toulouse. The city's parliament recognized the king's supremacy, and they endorsed Henry IV's Nantes edict of 1598, which gave the country's reformed degrees of freedom in Catholic-dominated France. The role of Parliament and the new political status deprived the capitouls of further influence.

    The 1600s and the Black Death
    In the 1600s, the plague raged across the region and Toulouse was hit by epidemics in 1629 and 1652. A rare collaboration between parliament and capitouls saw the light of day, for everyone had to help each other in the situation.

    The wealthy and many of the people of the church had left Toulouse and thereby the greatest risk of infection. Doctors were forced to stay and lack of food caused ca-pitouls to also demand that bakers and butchers stay in town and deliver food.

    The city's hospitals welcomed the infected, and for many, the proximity to a hospital was a greater security than taking in the countryside. Poverty also ravaged the plague, and at one point the wealthy were made responsible for the poor.

    Thousands died and Toulouse was shaken with broken structures after the second epidemic was finally completed in 1654. Despite this, the costly bridge, Pont-Neuf, was completed in 1632.

    The end of the 17th century also offered a major new plant. In 1681 the Canal du Midi was inaugurated, and the canal meant that the waterway between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean became faster and easier. Toulouse's location at the western start of the canal meant new trade opportunities in the future.

    Urban development in the 18th century
    New urban planning and new wealth created much activity in Toulouse through the 18th century. Among the major public facilities of the time are the street network, the Canal de Brienne and the parks around the Grand Rond and the stately facade of the Capitole.

    The Capitole was also the subject of a changed political structure. Religiously, the Nantes edict had been definitively revoked by King Louis XIV in 1685, thereby increasing religious intolerance.

    Tensions rose in Toulouse when merchant Jean Calas was sentenced to death by the city's parliament on March 9, 1762. Calas was a Protestant and professed his innocence, but was executed the day after the verdict. Jean Calas had thereby become the victim of a subjective trial because of his Protestant faith, and three years later he was posthumously found not guilty of the charges.

    Population supported the parliament not to gain too much influence from the royal power, and the election of the now eight capitouls was left to parliament, thereby further controlling the political system.

    The French Revolution
    As in other parts of France, the French Revolution was of great importance to the social and political situation in Toulouse. Following the events of July 14, 1789, a regime change resulted in Toulouse's MPs and capitouls walking the streets on September 25 in the struggle to maintain their power. However, the loyalty of the people to the old regime was very small, and the regional influence previously secured through parliament was now minimized through the establishment of the area as the department of Haute-Garonne.

    The system against capitouls was disbanded on December 14, 1789, and mayor rule was introduced instead. Joseph de Rigaud was elected first mayor on February 28, 1790.

    Napoleonic era in Toulouse
    The first battle of Toulouse took place in 1799, when the fortified city successfully defended itself against an attack by British and Spanish royalist armies. However, another and greater battle was to take place at the end of the Napoleonic era.

    With Napoleon as new French leader and later emperor, the regional self-government in Toulouse was partially reinstated and the emperor himself came to the city in 1808.

    In 1814, the Battle of Toulouse played out as one of the last during the Napoleonic Wars. It started on April 10, and thus after Napoleon's surrender of the French Empire to the Sixth Coalition.

    A British and two Spanish divisions attacked Toulouse, which was defended under the leadership of Nicolas Jean-de-Dieu Soult. The French losses were less than those of the attackers, and the British-Spanish forces did not succeed in winning the battle. It even managed to keep the city an extra day when Soult could escape the city with all his army.

    On April 12, the British-Spanish force was able to occupy the city without Soult's opposition, and a delegation from the city surrendered Toulouse to the conquerors. With Napoleon's abdication, Soult entered the ceasefire on April 17.

    19th Century Toulouse
    The industrial revolution in Toulouse gradually occurred through the 19th century and did not have the same growth as in many other French cities. Textile factories were already in town, which also produced tobacco and some military hardware.

    The mid-19th century's expansive urban planning and the coming of the railroad in 1856 became the turning point that changed Toulouse from a medieval city to a modern 19th-century town.

    The railway connected Toulouse with both the Atlantic and Mediterranean cities in the same way that the Canal du Midi had done since the 1600s.

    By urban planning, major roads were implemented so that the city could effectively expand with new neighborhoods outside the medieval neighborhoods.

    In 1875, progress was temporarily halted when heavy rainfall and melting water from the Pyrenees led to a flood in the city, Garonne walking 6.20 meters across its banks, and of connections across the river, only Pont-Neuf remained.

    20th Century to Today
    Throughout the 20th century, Toulouse's population grew significantly; including 25,000 Spaniards who have influenced the city's cultural life ever since.

    The industry also grew significantly, and it only strengthened when Toulouse became one of eight French cities and urban areas in 1963 to drive regional development as a counter-pole to hyper-centralization in Paris.

    The high technology also came to Toulouse and the most visible worldwide became the location of the Ariane space program and Airbus headquarters in the city. Culturally, Toulouse is also booming, and since 1993 the metro has rolled here.
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Toulouse, France

Top attractions

Capitole, Toulouse

  • Capitol/Le Capitole: Place du Capitole is the center of Toulouse, and the beautiful Capitol is located here. The Capitol is the seat of the city council and the regional assembly of the area. The Capitol Theater is also housed in the building, which dates from the mid-18th century.
  • Carmelite Chapel/Chapelle des Carmélites: This chapel is a beautifully decorated church room in central Toulouse. The chapel is the only preserved part of a larger Carmelite monastery that was located on this site.

St Sernin Basilica, Toulouse

  • St Sernin Basilica/Basilique Saint-Sernin: Saint-Sernin is a colossal Romanesque church from the years 1080-1120. It is named after Toulouse's first bishop, Saturninus. The church was built as a great pilgrimage site and it is very worth seeing.
  • Boat Trips & Cruises/Bateaux & Croisoires: Toulouse is a city with many waterways. The river Garonne and several canals form a historic transport network, which you can sail on today and thereby experience the southern French city from the water.

Assezat Palace, Toulouse

  • Assézat Palace (Foundation Bemberg)/Hôtel d'Assézat (Fondation Bemberg): Hôtel d’Assézat is a magnificent city palace built for the manufacturer Pierre d’Assézat in the 16th century. Today it is an art museum with works by many famous painters.
Trips in the area

Montauban, France

  • Montauban: The city of Montauban is located at the confluence of the rivers Tarn and Tescou, and it has about 60,000 inhabitants. The very center of Montauban is worth seeing and you can go for some lovely walks here, for example along the river and to the Pont Vieux bridge.
  • Andorra: The mountainous state of Andorra is located in the Pyrenees south of Toulouse. The small country is located at an altitude of 800-2,900 meters/2,600-9,500 feet. Andorra is a country where most people visit the capital Andorra la Vella, known for shopping and beautiful surroundings in the middle of the mountains.

Carcassonne, France

  • Carcassonne: The city of Carcassonne is one of the most exciting cities in the south of France. The city's major attraction is the Cité de Carcassonne, which is a central fortress around the city center. It is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
  • Béziers: The old center of the beautiful city of Bézier is located high above the Orb River and the Canal du Midi. On a trip to the city you should explore along the river and in the narrow streets and alleys of the old town.

Montpellier, France

  • Montpellier: Montpellier is one of the beautiful cities of the South of France with its many cozy streets, churches, buildings and squares with cafes. Here are also several fine museums and a proximity to the beach and the Mediterranean.
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  • Carrefour, Esplanade Compans Caffarelli 3,
  • Carrefour, Grande Rue Saint-Michel 11,
  • Centre Commercial Compans, Esplanade Compans Caffarelli 3
  • Galeries Lafayette, 4 Rue Lapeyrouse,
  • Markets: Place Saint-Aubin, Place Victor Hugo, Place Saint-Etienne, Place Saint-Sernin
  • Shopping streets: Rue d'Alsace-Lorraine, Rue de Rémusat, Rue des Arts, Rue du Languedoc, Rue du Taur, Rue Croix-Baragnon, Rue Fermat, Rue Saint-Rome
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