GARNI TEMPLE: THE HERITAGE OF GRECO-ROMAN CULTURE IN ARMENIA
When you first see Garni in front of you, it won’t remind you of anything very special. It may look plain and simple. However, it is an uncommon temple to see in Armenia, in fact, the only one preserved from the pagan times. Garni was built in the first century AD but collapsed in 1679 because of an earthquake, the temple was reconstructed. If you pay attention to the lack of carvings, you will be able to tell the difference between the new and old stones.
The temple was dedicated to the god of the sun - Mihr. Since Armenians adopted Christianity in 301 AD, Garni lost its initial purpose and was used as a summer residence for the kings.
THE FORTRESS AND THE BATHS
The temple is actually within the area of Garni fortress. It used to contain the temple, churches, as well as Roman Baths. It was finalized from 3rd to 1st century BC. The fortress is believed to be of great importance during the Hellenistic period and had also served as a great defense hotspot.
Though it was ruined in 59 AD, the fortress was restored again, this time with Garni temple built alongside it. Nowadays, ruins of the fortress are still present when you visit Garni. You can walk around the area and feel the history in every stone. Don’t forget to look in front of you - the view of nature in front of you is indescribable.
Besides the fortress and the temple, don’t miss out the Bath House. The way the House was constructed with its many rooms is in the model of traditional Roman baths. The rooms consisted of cold water, hot water, steaming rooms, and others. Perhaps, the most interesting part of the House is the mosaic which contains Greek inscription and tells a story of goddess Thetis and other creatures.
WHAT IS SO ICONIC ABOUT THE TEMPLE?
When you look at the temple, it appears easy to go inside and walk around. However, the stairs are built to be very hard to climb, as in to display your respect towards the gods and how you struggle to reach to worship them. Once you get to check out the inside of the temple, there is a mix of new and old stones and historical worship spots. And because Armenians converted to Christianity a long time ago, Garni is one of the exceptional cases of a pagan temple to survive and continues to impress thousands of visitors year around.
Garni temple is an extremely popular destination for tourists in Armenia and it is for a reason. The temple and the area around it speak volumes about the nation’s history and how far it has come. From exploring history through the fortress to imagining what the many celebrations looked like during the Pagan times, Garni is a must place to visit. Include it in your travel itinerary and plan your trip with Caucasus Holidays!
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