Almost anyone, who comes to Armenia, visits Garni, and they think it is the 76 AD temple and Roman style baths. Many learn when they visit
that the cyclonic stone walls that surround the royal summer residence and temple are were in fact first laid in the 3rd millennium BC by ancestral Armenians who developed the region into one of the greatest metallurgical and trading powers in Mesopotamia and Asia Minor.
The temple of Garni is one of the most significant architectural sights in Armenia. This is a pagan temple, dedicated to Mihr – the god of Sun,
heavenly light and justice. It’s situated in 28 k from the capital of Armenia, near the Garni Village, on a triangular cliff, rising above the Azat River gorge.
The only memorial in Armenia, which remained from the era of paganism, the temple of Garni, was built in the second half of the first
century AD by the Armenian Arsacid king Tiridates I and was dedicated to the sun god Mihr, whose figure was standing in the depths of the
sanctuary. The fortress of Garni is one of the clearest evidences of the centuries-old culture of pre-Christian Armenia. Its construction began in the II century BC and continued during ancient times and, partly, in the Middle Ages.
In Garni village of Kotayk marz and in the deep gorge of Azat River, two 100-meter-high cliffs that join by 180-meter enclosure protect a majestically soaring Garni pagan complex, towering over a triangular cape. According to the traditions, the father of the Armenian History
Movses Khorenatsi ascribed the foundation of Garni fortress to Hayk’s great-grandson Gegham, whose grandson was also named Garni after
the temple. The exact date of the foundation of the fortress is unknown. A manuscript of the 14th century dated the year of the 2166 of BC as
the fortress foundation year. It is believed that the temple was dedicated to the sun god Mithras and 24 columns represent 24 hours of the day.
Although Garni Temple reminds of the Hellenistic era monuments, however, it remains as an unsurpassed example of the high-class
architecture of the ancient times. After the spreading of Christianity, Garni Temple was used for secular purposes.