Garni – the only standing pagan temple in the former Soviet Union
If you already managed to travel to Armenia, then you have definitely seen this impressive and unique temple, located at the edge of beautiful Garni gorge, as it is one of the main tourist attractions of this sunny country. Garni temple is situated 30km away from its capital city Yerevan so even if tourists are short of time, they still manage to visit this place. Moreover, they usually combine it with another famous site – Geghard medieval monastery, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and situated not far from it.
Built in the first century AD, Garni is the only pagan temple which had not been destroyed after Armenians adopted Christianity as a national religion in 301 AD but what was not done by people was done by nature later on, by an earthquake in 1679. Fortunately, it was reconstructed in the last century and nowadays, travelers can enjoy this wonderful temple even during nighttime thanks to exterior lighting.
The temple is situated on the territory of a fortress where you can also see the ruins of an early Christian church and a Roman bath , the mosaic of which is partly preserved. You can also go down to the canyon to see another natural wonder called The Symphony of Stones – a complex of basalt columns which were carved out by the Goght river during the centuries.
You should try Gata (Armenian sweet bread) with khoriz (filling consisting of sugar, butter, and flour) which locals sell near the entrance to the Garni temple or near the Geghard monastery.