This article has been previously published as a part of book Around Ephesus and Kusadasi: TAN Travel Guide by Izabela Miszczak
Extensive, but overgrown ruins of the ancient city Notion (Notium) are picturesquely situated on a hilltop overlooking the Aegean Sea coast, Ahmetbeyli village. Its history is closely related to nearby Colophon, hidden inland 17 km to the north. The name Notion in Ancient Greek means 'southern'.
In the archaic period, the most important town in the area was Colophon, founded as a colony by Ionian Greeks. The inhabitants of Colophon were famous for their wealth that they owed to fertile lands and their sailing skills. In the 8th and the 7th century BC, they also became famous as exquisite warriors and horsemen. According to ancient writers, their passion for luxuries became the reason for the gradual decline of the city, because strolling in purple robes in the haze of perfume does usually not favor military training.
Colophon gradually lost its independence, first getting under the control of Lydia. Then, in the second half of the 6th century BC it was conquered Persia. It was then that Notion started to flourish, which, in contrast to Colophon, was an Aeolians settlement as mentioned by Herodotus. Notion also served as a port for pilgrims who came to the oracle at Claros.
In 406 BC Notion appeared on the pages of history as a place where a sea battle between the forces of Athens and Sparta. The battle was one of many that took place between these two rivals during the Second Peloponnesian War, fought for hegemony over the whole of Greece. Before the battle of the Notion the commander of the Athenian fleet - Alcibiades - left the fleet command to the helmsman Antiochus. This fleet blocked the Spartan ships at Ephesus. Contrary to received orders from Alcibiades, Antiochus drew Spartan ships into the battle, which ended in victory for the Spartans. Strategically, the battle of Notion was not very significant, but it had a great symbolic meaning. The Athenians were famous as exquisite sailors, as opposed to the Spartans, who had an opinion of landlubbers. As the result of the battle, Alcibiades lost the command and the Spartan commander Lysander earned a reputation of a person who can defeat the Athenians at sea. Indeed, his subsequent victories led to the end of the Peloponnesian War for the benefit of Sparta.
In Hellenistic times Lysimachus, one of the generals of Alexander the Great, while implementing the expansion plan for his kingdom in Asia Minor, forced the Colophonians to resettle. Most of them moved to Ephesus, and some - to Notion. Since then Notion significantly gained in importance at the expense of Colophon and was known as 'New Colophon' or 'Colophon at the Sea'. In fact these two cities, Colophon and Notion, never developed into significant cities of the region. The reason was the proximity of Ephesus, who attracted traders and settlers from the entire region of western Asia Minor.
Notion ruins occupy an area measuring approximately 500 to 1,000 meters, situated on two adjacent hills, right on the coast of the Aegean Sea. Archaeological works in Notion were conducted in 1921 as part of the French research expedition, led by Charles Picard.
The city was surrounded by a four-km-long wall, built in the Hellenistic period, which was repaired during the reign of Romans. From the ramparts of the city long stretches of the walls have been preserved. Two city gates - the western and the northern are still visible.
The ruins of the city are poorly preserved, but you can find the foundations of the Temple of Athena Polias. It stands on the western hill, surrounded by a colonnade of Corinthian order, with the remains of an altar on its eastern side. During its heyday, this temple, built during the reign of the Roman emperor Hadrian, stood on a three-step platform with dimensions of 7.5 to 16 meters. The temple and the altar were located in an area of so-called temenos or the part of the city devoted to a religious cult. This district was surrounded by colonnades (i.e. stoas), which housed numerous shops. The layout of this religious complex indicates the preservation of the style known from the Hellenistic period into the Roman times by the residents of Notion.
In Notion, there are also the remains of the second temple, but it is unknown which deity it was dedicated to. In the city, there were two agoras - the first one was located centrally, and the second on - on the eastern side. Unfortunately, there are no visible traces of any of them. However, one can discern the ruins of a bouleuterion, somewhere in the central area of the city. The remains of a small theater from the Hellenistic Period are located in the eastern direction.
All fragments of ancient buildings preserved in Notion are in poor condition. Moreover, they are situated on extensive grounds heavily overgrown by bushes and thistles. The biggest attraction of a visit to Notion is probably the beautiful view that stretches from the top of a hill. The Aegean Sea, Greek island of Samos and the stretch of the coast from Selçuk to Kuşadası are clearly visible from its peak.
The entrance to the ruins is unlimited and free of charge. However, a visit in the evening or during the night is not recommended. There are steep cliffs with no barriers to providing protection against falling into the sea down below. Due to the presence of bushes and tall grasses long trousers and sturdy hiking boots are recommended. You should also be prepared for close encounters with fauna as, during the exploration of Notion, you can find yourself in a cloud of surprised cicadas.
Notion ruins are located just off the road from Seferihisar through Selçuk to Kuşadası. If you travel along E87 road from Izmir to Aydın, turn off to the west near Belevi and drive further 31 km, to the vicinity of Ahmetbeyli. Notion is located approximately 1.5 km east of the center of Ahmetbeyli, and the fragments of ancient city walls are clearly visible from the road. Take the exit toward the ruins marked with the new brown signpost. The car should be parked in the bay near the road. It is necessary to walk uphill along a narrow path to get to the ruins.
Warning! The position of Notion is erroneously indicated on some maps of Turkey, directing to the vicinity of Özdere - about 10 km west of the correct location!
Notion ruins lie just 2 km away from the famous ancient oracle at Claros, and it is a good idea to combine a visit to these two places during one trip.