Nemea, Nemean Games

Nemean Games
Next edition in year 2020 (every 4 years in June. last edition held in 2016)
Nemea, Archaia Nemea (Corinthia region)


Enthusiasts from all over the world relive the spirit of the ancient Greek games in the same stadium after 2000 years by running barefoot and wearing a white tunic to win a ribbon tied around the head and a palm branch and add their footprints to those of ages long gone…


Geographical, cultural and historical context

The ancient Nemea, once a famous religious sanctuary, is an archaeological site located in the Peloponnese peninsula, in an upland valley at the eastern foothills of the Arkadian Mountains, in the province of Corinthia, in Greece. The nearby small village of Archaia Nemea lies southwest, while the new town of Nemea to the west. According to the Greek mythology it was there that Heracles overcame the Nemean Lion, achieving the first of his labours. The skin of the beast was impenetrable, and Heracles had to wrestle and finally strangle it. Then he removed the skin and wore it as a coat of armour.

During the Antiquity, from 573 to 235 BC, Nemea was home to athletic and musical competitions that were held every two or three year in July in honour of Zeus at the great Temple of Zeus. Together with the Olympic Games at Olympia, the Pythian Games at Delphi and the Isthmian Games at Isthmia, the Nemean Games ranked soon among the top four Panhellenic Games of the Ancient Greece, a circuit of the cycle of games that took place every four year to celebrate the local deities through sport competitions. At each one of these four sites in rotation, for a brief period, wars and hostilities were suspended by a sacred truce, and all Greeks gathered in peace to attend this event. The program originally included only athletic contests and horse races, while in the Hellenistic period, musical contests were added, and in the 1st century AD also contests for girls. A group of archaeologists from the University of California, Berkeley, which began work at Nemea in 1973, discovered the remains of a stadium on a hillside near the temple.


Event description and programme

The modern Nemean Games are held every four years at Nemea, Greece thanks to the efforts and care of the Society for the Revival of the Nemean Games, which was born after the successful excavation led by the University of California at Berkeley. Nowadays various races are organized according to the ancient way of sport competitions based on age and gender, with no special rewards, just to celebrate sport, history and peace. Alongside with the games the programme includes as well music, theatre and dance shows and several other leisure and educational events for all ages.

An interesting and detailed contribution about the historical basis for the modern recreation of the Nemean games as a sort of living history sport event can be found at this weblink:

Please contact the Organizers for confirmation and further details.

Info & Contact

The Society for the Revival of the Nemean Games
Address: Post Office Box 2012 Nemea, Greece GR – 205 00
Tel: +30 27460-24125

Nemea Town Council
Tel.: +30 27463-60118

Image: The Society for the Revival of the Nemean Games
Text sources: The Society for the Revival of the Nemean Games, Encyclopedia Britannica, Wikipedia, Ancient History Encyclopedia, Ancient Olympics by University of Leuven


Nemea on Google Maps:



Discovering the Nemean Games:



Trailer of the movie "Passage into History: Ancient Nemea and the Ancient Games"



A Step into History: the video shows something of the excavations at Nemea, and the discovery of the stadium where the Nemean Games were held. It then explains the revival of the ancient games in the same place and based to the greatest extent possible on ancient practices.



The video below shows a wonderful aerial view of the Temple of Zeus at the ancient Nemea:



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