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.

Top experiences in Garni Temple

Garni Temple activities

$18 Day Trips & Excursions

Garni Temple, Geghard, and Lavash Baking from Yerevan

Begin your tour with pickup from your central hotel in Yerevan or from a central meeting point at 10am.Settle inside your comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle and travel into eastern Armenia for a short stop at Charent's Arch. Soak up the wonderful views from here to Mt. Ararat, and then make your next stop at Garni Temple, a stunning temple that looms over mountain gorges.A blend of Greco-Roman and Armenian architectural styles, this unique example of pagan culture is the only surviving of its kind in the country.Believed to have been built by the Armenian King Trdat in the first century AD as a temple to the sun god, Mihr, it lost its significance when Armenia converted to Christianity in the early 4th century. The temple was then used a summer residence by the country’s kings and today, the remnants of the palace and its bathroom, complete with stunning mosaic work, can be seen nearby.After exploring here, visit the Geghard Monastery, an unsurpassed masterpiece of 13th-century Armenian architecture. This UNESCO-listed complex of churches is partially carved from a mountainside, with cliffs surrounding the buildings, and was originally called Ayrivank, a name that translates as ‘Monastery of the Cave.’The monastery was later renamed as Geghard, meaning ‘lance,’ after the spear used by a Roman soldier to stab Jesus on the cross was kept here for several centuries.The architectural design of one of Geghard’s rock churches is such that it provides extraordinary acoustics, making sacred songs sound remarkably rich and divine. The whole complex is awash with detailed sculptures, cliffside monks’ cells, and many striking stone crosses (khachkars), elaborately etched into the rock faces.Your last stop is the family-run Three Jugs restaurant for a presentation on Armenian lavash. This traditional flatbread is made with flour, water, and salt, and its thickness depends on how thinly it’s rolled out. Toasted sesame or poppy seeds — or both — are sometimes then sprinkled on top before baking. Traditionally, the dough is rolled out flat and slapped against the hot walls of a clay oven where it then cooks. Watch a demonstration on how lavash is made and take the opportunity to try your hand at preparing and baking it. Then, once it’s ready, enjoy a tasting: savoring it with local cheese and green vegetables.Afterward, return to Yerevan where your tour ends at the original central meeting point.

Garni Temple in detail