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National Geographic publishes in 18 languages around the world. Who better to point you to the best places to see in their countries than the editors of our international editions? Each month a real insider reveals five must-see destinations.
Turkey
Nesibe Bat “I’m a huge fan of the U.S. magazine,” says National Geographic Türkiye editor Nesibe Bat. “Being offered this job was a great professional acknowledgement and something I’m very proud of. But I have to admit, I took it mainly because I really like National Geographic.”

Now that her own magazine is up and running, Bat and her six-person staff are determined not to make any mistakes. “We want our readers to view this publication with the same prestige and trust as the U.S. edition,” she says.

To test the waters before the official launch in early May, the team produced a charter issue. “We offered the first run for free,” says the 13-year journalism veteran. “More than 128,000 people responded.”

Strong responses to more than 40,000 additional magazines sold at newsstands prompted some creative marketing strategies. “We also want the commitment that comes with memberships,” Bat says, “so we reduced the subscription price and translated the Expeditions Atlas to offer as a gift for new two-year members.”

“Our goal each month is to sell 100,000 copies of an impeccably translated magazine that will be a solid reference source for everyone in Turkey,” she continued. “Because of the reputation of the U.S. publication, we’re fortunate that we don’t have to try very hard to attract readers.”
Turkey

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Coming in 2001:
Thai

Five best places to see


Bat did have to put a lot of effort into narrowing down her five favorite destinations in a historically diverse country she describes as “an open-air museum.” Here’s what she came up with:

1. Istanbul
“This port city of about eight million is the largest in Turkey. It sits on both sides of the Bosporus Strait, the only city in the world to span two continents: Europe and Asia. Many people live on one continent and work on the other. Every day they go back and forth by car or by boat. Many historical parts of Istanbul have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites. There’s so much to see in the city, but visitors shouldn’t miss the Hagia Sophia, one of Istanbul’s great monuments. The domed basilica was built in just six years under the direction of Byzantine emperor Justinian I and completed in A.D. 537. Also visit the Topkapi Palace Museum, which houses an extensive collection of antiquities, textiles, ceramics, armor, and Islamic relics. It also keeps the private papers of various sultans. From April to the end of October, visitors can enjoy the outdoors by taking a day-long boat ride down the Bosporus, a 19-mile (30-kilometer) waterway that unites the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara. The Asian and European shores are heavily forested and lined with villages, resorts, beautiful homes, villas, and palaces. Dolmabahçe Palace, built by the Ottoman sultan Abdülmecid I, who ruled from 1839 to 1861, is particularly beautiful. The crystal chandelier in the reception room, which weighs 4.5 tons, was a gift from Queen Victoria of England and is said to be the largest in the world. Dolmabahçe holds special significance for Turks because the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, died there on November 10, 1938.”

2. Troy
“The Greek poet Homer wrote about the ancient city in The Illiad. It’s located in western Turkey near the entrance of the Dardanelles strait, which connects the Aegean Sea to the Black Sea by way of the Sea of Marmara. Troy is one of the world’s most important archaeological sites because of its place in literature and what it tells us about a critical early period in the development of European civilization. Archaeologists have been excavating here since the 1870s and have found evidence of nine different settlements built on top of each other at different periods since the Bronze Age. In some places visitors can see all nine levels. The ancient city is not very well preserved, but archaeologists have found such artifacts as gold jewelry and ornaments, and copper, bronze, silver, gold, and ceramic vessels from one of the earliest periods. Most pieces are housed at the main museum in nearby Çanakkale. It’s best to visit this World Heritage site in the summer when work is at its peak.”

3. Nemrud Mountain
“This is one of the most impressive ancient monuments in the region. It rises 7,054 feet (2,150 meters) above the horizon about 53 miles (86 kilometers) beyond the city of Adiyaman in southeast Anatolia. Antiochus I, who reigned over the kingdom of Commagene from 69 to 34 B.C., built the mountaintop sanctuary as a mausoleum and the center of religion. Imposing statues of the king and Greek gods, originally 26 to 33 feet (8 to 10 meters) high, sit on the mountain facing east and west. Their enormous heads, which rolled off during earthquakes, rest in front of them. The remains of stelae depict Antiochus’ Greek and Persian ancestry. It’s best to climb this World Heritage site in the summer when it’s clear of snow. And be sure to take in the spectacular views at sunrise and sunset.”

4. Aphrodisias
“This wonderfully preserved Greco-Roman city in southwestern Anatolia was once a great center of marble sculpture. People came from all around to study sculpting. Many statues made of white or blue-gray marble from nearby quarries have been excavated in excellent condition. In addition to the ruins of the Temple of Aphrodite and a stadium that once held the city’s entire population of 30,000, archaeologists have excavated houses as well as a concert hall, market, basilica, gateway, and a cult center for worship of the Roman emperor. But the real gems are a piazza flanked by the remains of elaborate Roman baths and a semicircular theater that once seated as many as 8,000 citizens.”

5. Cappadocia
“Over time, wind erosion honed volcanic rock into the cone-shaped formations that fill this region of central Turkey. For more than a thousand years people have dug them out and converted them into houses and churches. Archaeologists believe the Hittites (1650-710 B.C.) may have been the first culture to excavate the underground cities also found in Cappadocia, another World Heritage site. They and subsequent cultures escaped enemy invaders by going into these subterranean shelters, which were constructed with air shafts, waste shafts, wells, chimneys, and connecting passageways. Upper levels were used for living quarters, and the lower levels were used for making wine, grinding flour, storing belongings, and worshipping.”

Photographs (from left) by Jonathan S. Blair, Steve McCurry, and David Brill

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