One of the most visited sightseeing places in Armenia is located 28 in away from Yerevan. Museum-preserve is comprised of Garni temple, a fortress of the same name, ruins of a palace, and Roman baths.
Garni temple is a fine example of hellenistic architecture, the only remaining pagan temple in Armenia, and the only preserved Greco-Roman colonnaded building in USSR. The temple is called the Sun Temple,because it’s dedicated to the god of the Sun - Mihr. The temple was built in 1st century AD by King Tiridates I. One of the most ancient monuments in Armenia was built according to traditions of Classical Greek architecture and reminds of famous Parthenon in Athens. The temple stands on an elevated podium and is encircled by 24 columns of 6,5 meters of height. The columns are placed in Ionic order: 6 one the front and the back parts and 8 on the sides. Garni temple is made of grey basalt with a roof with triangular pediment. The exterior of the temple is very chic; there’re basalt columns, carved ornaments, bas-reliefs, carved pictures of vine,pomegranate,and other elements of ancient Armenian ornament. Well-preserved luxurious exterior proves high level of development of architecture in ancient Armenia. In 1679, disastrous earthquake destroyed Garni temple. Pieces of the Sun Temple flew all over the river Azat gorge. In 1996, Soviet Union initiated restoration of the temple, which lasted for 10 years.
Garni fortress exposes travelers to breathtaking views. This striking example of pre-Christian period in Armenia was built in 3rd-2nd centuries BC from basalt stones. The fortress is impregnable; it was surrounded by gorge from two sides and strengthened by 12 towers. It was destroyed by the Romans 59 AD, but fully reconstructed by King Tiridates I.
Another interesting part of museum-preserve are ruins of classic Roman bath that date back to 3rd century. The exterior and the interior of the building used to be luxuriously decorated. The mosaic floor is comprised of precious stones and pictures man’s and woman’s heads, different fish, and sea gods. On the territory of the museum there’re vineyards, fantastically beautiful views of the mountainous gorge are at travelers’ disposal.