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Ancient Nemea Review
The ancient storytellers proclaimed that it was here Hercules performed the first of the Twelve Labors set by the king of Argos in penance for killing his own children—he slew the ferocious Nemean lion living in a nearby cave. Historians are interested in Ancient Nemea as the site of a sanctuary of Zeus and the home of the biennial Nemean games, a Panhellenic competition like those at Isthmia, Delphi, and Olympia (today there is a society dedicated to reviving the games).
The main monuments at the site are the temple of Zeus (built about 330 BC to replace a 6th-century BC structure), the stadium, and an early Christian basilica of the 5th to 6th century AD. Several columns of the temple still stand. An extraordinary feature of the stadium, which dates to the last quarter of the 4th century BC, is its vaulted tunnel and entranceway. The evidence indicates that the use of the arch in building may have been brought back from India with Alexander (arches were previously believed to be a Roman invention). A spacious museum displays finds from the site, including pieces of athletic gear and coins of various city-states and rulers. Around Nemea, keep an eye out for roadside stands where local growers sell the famous red Nemean wine of this region.
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