Ancient Nemea, like Olympia, was a Sanctuary where athletic games were held in honour of Zeus which were later known as the Panhellenic Festival Games.
In mythology, Nemea was famous as the home of the Nemean Lion, which was killed by the hero Heracles and as the place where the infant Opheltes, lying on a bed of parsley, was killed by a serpent while his nurse fetched water.
The Temple of Nemean Zeus (the god of shepherds and shepherding not the philanderer) was built around 330 BC and only three of the original columns remained. In 2002, two columns were reconstructed and in 2012 another four. The sanctuary of Zeus has had ongoing excavations since 1973: the great open-air altar, baths, and ancient accommodation for visitors can be seen. The temple stands on the site of an Archaic period temple, of which only a foundation wall is still visible.
The stadium has more recently been uncovered (in 1974) and was painstakingly excavated over a number of years. It is notable for its vaulted entrance tunnel complete with ancient graffiti on the walls, starting line and changing rooms. The revival of the Nemean Games has been a successful event for some years and it is possible to participate in the next (6th) Nemean Games. Registrations should be made before May 1, 2016.
In addition to its antiquities, Nemea is famous for its Agiorgitiko wine which is exported all over the world. There are many wineries, mostly family owned and operated, and many are open daily to the public for tasting and tours. Travel the "Wine Roads" of Nemea in a separate excursion or visit one of them for a tasting after your visit to the archaeological site.
Having visited the large sites at Epidavros and nearby Mycenae we had no high expectations of lesser known Nemea but we found it very evocative. The temple to Zeus and is interesting but do go into the museum. There are lots of artifacts of course but we found the little video on the starting mechanism for the races absolutely fascinating. It was then quite wonderful to enter the stadium through the tunnel and put ones toes on the original blocks used by the athletes over 2000 years ago. The site is beautiful with flowers everywhere!.
Visitor's review on Trip Advisor