Garni is located about 30 km east of the center of Yerevan. The small town with its famous «Temple of Garni» and the nearby Geghard Monastery is perfect for a day trip from the capital.
The main attraction of Garni is the Hellenistic Mithras Temple with its 24 Ionic columns, which date back to the 1st century. The temple was built by King Tiridates I, who did so in Garni because the place had served the kings as a summer residence at that time. The original temple of Garni was destroyed by an earthquake in 1679. It took almost 300 years until it was rebuilt in 1966 with the original material. Also worth seeing is the Geghard Monastery (part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site), located about 10 km east of Garni.
«Symphony of Stones» in the Garni Gorge
Also worth a visit is the gorge of Garni, whose entrance is only 2 kilometers from the temple and can easily be reached on foot. In the gorge, you can admire bizarre rock formations, including basalt columns that the river has carved out of the mountains. This landscape is also known as the «Symphony of Stones».
The Monastery complex of Geghard is one of the most outstanding sights in Armenia, and it is situated only 15 minutes from Garni. The monastery complex of Geghard is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The Monastery, with its remarkable rock-cut churches and tombs, is an exceptionally well-preserved and complete example of medieval Armenian monastic architecture and decorative art, with many innovatory features that had a profound influence on subsequent developments in the region.
Geghard makes your dream come true
Interesting legends and traditions are connected with the monastery. For example, there is a belief that Geghard helps your dreams come true. On the outer walls of the monastery, you can see curious grooves full of pebbles. There is a beautiful belief that if you make a wish, throw a pebble stone from below, and get into a groove, your dream will certainly come true.
Another unique fact that distinguishes the monastery from others is the holy spring that flows right inside the church. People throw coins here, making wishes. The water in the spring is considered holy. People make ablutions and also fill the bottles with holy water and take it with them.
Geghard is primarily famous for its architecture. This «architectural miracle» is literally carved in the depths of rock. On the walls of the ancient temple, you can see remarkable bas-reliefs and unique khachkars, which are carved in memory of the deceased. The symbol of the princely family Proshyan – a lion conquering a bull, is engraved on the walls of the monastery. Inside the temple. there is a spiritual, solemn atmosphere. Thanks to acoustics, during church singing, the monastery is filled with divine, angelic music. Inside the church. there is also the family tomb of Proshyan princes.
The Geghard Monastery was one of the spiritual and cultural centers of medieval Armenia, where besides religious buildings there were also such institutions as schools, libraries, and printing houses. The monks lived in cell caves carved next to the monastery. Monks made a great contribution to the development of calligraphy art. The school at the monastery had a repository of manuscripts.