What to see in Armenia
Tourist attractions Garni
The Garni Temple is one of Armenia’s premier attractions as it offers a magical glimpse into pre-Christian Caucasia. A Greco-Roman colonnaded building, the only one standing in Armenia, the temple is located in the village of Garni in the centre of the country. It is surrounded by a stunning backdrop of mountains, trees and wilderness and perfectly captures an epoch in time.
Thought to have been constructed by King Titillates as far back as the 1st century, the Garni Temple was built in honour of the Pagan Sun God, Mihr. It was almost entirely destroyed in a 17th-century earthquake, which left the temple in ruins, but due to the significance of the site, reconstruction work began in the 1960s and by 1975 it had been fully rebuilt and regained its former glory. The temple demonstrates a perfect geometric design, popular at the time of its construction thanks to philosophers and theorists such as Plato. It is orientated towards the sun, its front-facing side decorated with six Ionic columns, whilst the sides of the building are supported by eight. The entirety of the facade is adorned with a classical frieze border.
The temple survived the religious crackdown during the years of Soviet rule as it is thought that the Soviet aesthetic values the sort of classical design portrayed in this ancient masterpiece. On the first inspection, the Garni Temple certainly feel out of place; like a foreign building dropped into the Armenian countryside, but closer inspection has found classical Armenian influences within some of the carvings and decoration. Visitors are able to enter the interior of the temple as well as admiring the majesty of the exterior and although it seems quite large from outside the chamber inside the temple is surprisingly small. Even today, followers of neo-Pagan religions make pilgrimages to the site which they consider a shrine to the ancient Gods.