Tucked away in the hills to the south east of Yerevan, Armenia, is a magical gorge with hexagonal shaped protusions of rock. Overlooking the spectacle is the ancient pagan temple of Garni, a Hellenistic temple with a grand Greco-Roman colonnade, the only such example in Armenia. Probably built in the 1st century AD, it is thought to have been a temple to Mihr, the ancient Armenian Sun God.
Christianity swept across Armenia in the year 301 AD as the country became the first state to adopt it as an official religion. With that, the destruction of the country’s pagan sites began. The Garni Temple seems to have been the only structure that avoided this fate. It was then used as a summer house for the sister of king Tiridates III but from here on it’s history becomes obscure until it collapsed during an earthquake in 1679.
Historical interest in the temple grew in the 19th century and it was eventually reconstructed between 1969 and 1975. Coupled with the surrounding gorge, It has now become one of Armenia’s main tourist attractions.
We made the hour long drive at night only to find one of us had left a camera bag in a restaurant in Yerevan, complete with passport, memory cards etc… As we were due to fly home the next day we thought it would be sensible to scrap the plan and try and locate it, which we did. I had to get just one while we were there though.