The Temple of Garni is a well-known Temple and tourist attraction located in the village of Garni, Armenia. The Temple serves as a symbol of pre-Christian times for the nation of Armenia. The Temple’s origins date back around 2000 years. In this time, the Temple has enjoyed an interesting history – including a collapse and subsequent reconstruction. The Temple has the distinction of being the only place of worship to survive a 4th Century clampdown on pagan worship sites. Read on to see about the history of the Temple, and other useful information.
To begin with, we take a look at the history of the Temple. The exact construction date of the Temple is unknown, and has been extensively debated by researchers. The most widely-accepted theory suggests the Temple was built in 77 AD, during the reign on Tiridates I. An inscription found in 1945 names Tiridates as the ‘founder’ of the temple – providing the rationale for this belief. However, there have been a range of other theories regarding the early history of the Temple.
In the 4th Century, Christianity became the official state religion of Armenia. The majority of Pagan places of worship were destroyed, leaving the Temple of Garni as the only Pagan structure to have survived the cull. It is believed that the sheer beauty of the Temple saved it from destruction. In 1679, an earthquake caused the collapse of the temple. Fortunately, the debris spread in an enclosed area. It took almost three hundred years for restoration work to begin – finally starting in 1969. By 1975 – the Temple was complete – impressively constructed using largely its original stones.
Tourists mainly go to see the beauty of the Temple, and to appreciate its place in history as a symbol of pre-Christian Armenia. The exterior of the Temple is heavily decorated. To access the Temple, visitors walk up a set of steps that are known for being much-taller than regular steps – meant to give the visitor a sense of the magnitude of the Temple. Inside – the Temple’s Cella is impressive. The Cella remains light thanks to light from the entrance and the exposed roof. The Cella is small compared to other Temple structures. Also at the site is a bath complex, Church and Royal Summer Palace.
The Temple itself is located on a cliff. The iconic Gegham mountains are visible from the cliff. This breath-taking view is enough of a reason to visit Garni! Garni is located in the Kotayk province of Armenia. Tourists usually visit the nearby Geghard monastery together with the Temple of Garni. Geghard has the distinction of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visiting both is easy – with many tour guides set up to provide an experience of both. Click here to see a travel guide for Geghard.
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The Temple of Garni is a stunning sight – and one of the most picturesque locations in Armenia. It is unsurprising that hundreds of thousands of people visit the Temple year-on-year. Getting to the Temple is quite simple. Travelling from the Capital Yerevan, there are a number of bus services that offer a route to Garni. Local tour guides, and locals in general, will have great knowledge of Garni too. As shown in this article, the Temple is an impressive site that is well worth visiting! Happy travelling!