Welcome to Garni Temple
The area around Garni has been inhabited since Neolithic times, with archaeologists finding Urartian cuneiform inscriptions dating back to the 8th century BC. The high promontory site is protected on three of four sides by a deep valley with rock cliffs, with a wall of massive blocks on the fourth side.
The wall featured 14 towers and an entrance graced by an arch. Ruins of the fortress are on the left and right sides as you walk towards the temple from the parking area. The Avan Gorge, carved by the Azat River, lies below.
A Roman bathhouse, now partly covered by a modern structure, was built for the royal residence. In the 7th century a church was built nearby. The bathhouse features an intricate mosaic, made with 15 colours of natural stones, depicting the goddess of the ocean.
In the ruins of the church next to the temple is a vishap (carved dragon stone). This is a marker to show the location of water. Some marks on the middle of the stone are in fact writing from King Argishti from the 8th century BC, which reads: ‘Argishti, son of Menua, took people and cattle from Garni to Erebuni [the original site of Yerevan] to create a new community.’
In summer, Garni stays open until 10pm, but you’ll have to pay an additional AMD200 to see it illuminated by floodlights.
If you want to stay overnight, try Chez Yvette B&B, run by a French-Armenian family, located 1km up the road towards Geghard. This is a clean, comfortable house with shared bathroom. Meals are available on request.
In the village of Garni, Tavern Restaurant serves fish and meat khoravats. At the entrance to the temple is a horde of locals selling delicious dried fruit and locally produced honey.