Garni

 

The Temple of Garni is one of the oldest sights in Armenia worth to be seen once in a lifetime. As you stand beside it and look around, you see a whole band where the sweet and relieving sounds of symphonic metal seem to be played and to make you relax and enjoy the entire beauty opening in front of you with the temple and the violin mountain being in the center of attention. Interestingly, whenever, there is some talk about visiting the temple of Garni no one mentions that in the territory, where it is located, the temple is not the only thing to see. Other than the marvelous temple, there are the Fortress of Garni, the khatchkars of Garni, the Garrison, the founding stone, the ruins of the Saint Sion Church, the ruins of Mashtots Hayrapet Church, the summer palace, King Argishti I’s cuneiform inscription and the royal baths.

There is no exact evidence as to when the fortress of Garni was founded. During archaeological excavations a Bronze Age settlement with dwellings and numerous items was discovered. In the Urartian period (8th-6th centuries BC) the walls of the fortress were reinforced and the prototype of the first century temple’s building was erected. The current arrangement of the fortress dates to the 3rd-2nd centuries BC.
The temple was dedicated to Mithra. Mithra is the equivalent of the Greek word "Helios" meaning "Sun" or the "God of Sun." In several sources, the temple is referred to as "Helios Temple." The deity is believed to bear its origins in India, and to be spread in Persia and Armenia in the Bronze and Iron Ages in form of Zoroastrism. The Temple of Garni was built in the place of an Urartian Temple. It emulates the latter's dimensions (5.05 x 7.98 meters). The temple represents a Greco-Roman peripeteros. Nine wide stairs take to the entrance of the temple. The sanctum is located there. The Arabic inscription at the entrance of the prayer hall informs about the capture of the fortress and the temple's being turned into a mosque. The temple features 24 columns with six columns on the back and six on the front, and 8 columns on each of the two sides.