Garni Temple: The History of Foundation
Pagan Garni Temple is situated near Garni village in Kotayk region that is 28 km south-east from Yerevan. The Temple of Garni was built in the place of an Urartian Temple. The Greek influence especially penetrated many spheres: the Armenian aristocracy adopted Greek as a second language; the heathen pantheon in Armenia was built on the Greek model, even Armenian theatre was Greek in style and repertoire. And higher education here was based on Greek historians. But most of the heathen monuments were destroyed quite early in the Christian era, in the 4th century AD when Christianity was becoming the official religion.
The Temple at Garni was one of the few examples of heathen art and architecture to escape destruction. According to the 5th-century Armenian historian Movses Khorenatzi, unlike other heathen places of worship, the Temple was spared because when the first Christian sermons were preached in Armenia, it had already acquired an established secular function: that of a holiday place for the royal family. The pagan Temple in Garni is the most famous monument of paganism and hellenism era. It was built in 1st century by king Tigran the 1st and was dedicated to the Armenian God of the Sun “Mitra”. There is a unique sightseeing in Garni canyon called Stone Symphonies. This rocks are from basalt columns that stand side by side to each other and reach up to 100 meters high.
The detail in the Temple is remarkable. Besides the classical acanthus leaves and lion’s heads, the design includes local motifs such as pomegranates, vines and flowers.
Garni Temple: Royal Baths
The dig at Garni fortress also brought to light a bath house, an anteroom and three adjoining rooms for cold, warm and hot water, with ceramic hot water pipes for heating. The whole floor of the anteroom is covered by a mosaic representing the sea and mythological deities.
The Garni Temple was crashed down by an earthquake in 1679, but was reconstructed in 1970. During the reconstruction were used some fragments that were found at the same place. Some major constructions were found nearby the temple. In 1953 was found mosaic floor which is a unique monument of ancient Armenian culture.