Pagan temple Garni- the summer residence of Armenian kings

3 minutes to read

That amazing feeling when you live in the 21st century but you can enter a building built in the 1st century… The UNESCO world heritage site Garni is the only Hellenic style temple in Armenia. It was built by the king Trdat (Tiridates) in the 1st century and was dedicated to Mithra, the God of the Sun. The temple used to serve as a summer residence of Armenian kings. After adoption of Christianity in 301 as a state religion, all the pagan temples were destroyed and only Garni still remains standing. It’s worth a visit, especially considering that the temple is located within 28km distance from the capital city Yerevan.

There is a small pagan community in Armenia and their weddings take place at Garni temple with all the beautiful traditions that Armenians had in pre-Christian times. Knowing not much about pagans I had the honor to be present at the wedding of two of my friends who are among those few Pagan Armenians. The energy that was present at the temple and the ceremony with fire itself made me fly through time. Only then I realized that Garni is not just a temple but is a piece of the past in the present. Pagan ceremonies are impressive, mind-blowing, unique and it's great to know that there are many people all over the world who follow those traditions in our days.

©Unknown
©Unknown

Photo from Ani Carla Kalafian & Sarkis Rshdouni wedding

Just in 20 meters from the temple was located the palace with several buildings. Unfortunately, now there are only the ruins of it. In 50 m from the temple is located the Roman style bathroom that had a cloakroom (apodyterium) as well as rooms with cold water (frigidarium) and warmer water (tepidarium). Interestingly this bathroom had an underfloor heating system. In the bathroom you can also notice an ancient colorful mosaic.

©Marie_ange
©Marie_ange

Credits to Marie_ange

Being a residence of kings it had to be located in a place that would not be easily accessible for enemies. Considering this, the temple was built on a triangle cliff surrounded by (around 300 m deep) gorges where the river Azat flows.

If you go down the gorge you can also visit the place called Symphony of stones. It's a miracle made by the nature itself. Some people say that the stones hanging from huge rocks remind musical instrument organ, but to me it looks like a stone rain.

©iStock/Ozbalci
©iStock/Ozbalci

Credits to Ozbalci

At the entrance you can stop by local people from the village who sell fresh fruits, famous homemade Gata (traditional cake) of Garni, homemade canned products, pickles and traditional sweets. You can taste sweets right there, but do not forget to buy some to take with you to your countries so your friends and family also feel the taste of the Armenian sun.

If you want to visit one of those few pagan temples left in the world go to Garni. Impressions you get from there won't leave you for a long time. After exploring the summer residence of Armenian kings you can have some rest and enjoy delicious traditional food at “Yot kar” (seven stones) restaurant that is in walking distance from the temple.

©iStock/marlenka
©iStock/marlenka

Credits to marlenka

Temple of Garni
Temple of Garni
Garni 2215, Armenië
Yot Kar Restaurant
Yot Kar Restaurant
30 Grigor Zohrap str., Garni 2215, Armenia
Symphony of Stones
Symphony of Stones
Simphony Of Stones, Armenia

The author

Lusine Vardanyan

Lusine Vardanyan

I’m Lusine, from Armenia. I like to travel and explore new places. I'm interested in art, culture, music and sports. On itinari I’ll show you Armenia the way I see it.

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