Garni

Garni fortress is 30 km far from Yerevan. It is surrounded by upper Azat valley, called Symphony of Stones. Originally it was 12-14 meters high; what remains are 2-4 meters of finely hewn stone. That is a construction built in the Roman period, which was rebuilt several times. The large walls were made with huge blocks of stones, which kept their original look, borrowing from the Romans the technique in laying stone without mortar by using iron. In order to strengthen the wall, blocks were placed alternately with the longer side or the shorter side on the face of the wall. The result was both appealing and strong. It took 500 years and successive invasions to tear down the walls, which were later rebuilt and reinforced with a gate.

The Temple of Garni is the only standing Greco-Roman colonnaded building in Armenia, built in 77 AD, dedicated to the sun god Mihr. The temple follows the style of classical Ancient Greek architecture which began developing in Armenia since Alexander the Macedonian's invasions. The temple is built on an elevated podium. It is supported by a total of twenty-four columns of the Ionic order. The triangular pediment depicts sculptures of plants and geometrical figures. The staircase has nine high steps, on the both sides of them there are square pedestals with sculpture of Atlas, the Greek mythological Titan, on them. It collapsed in a 1679 earthquake and restored in 1975. A fragment of the architrave bearing a lion head was removed and bequeathed by him to the British Museum in 1907.

Garni Bath House is located at an angle to the residential block. The 3rd century building consisted of five rooms, which had a water reservoir and a heating system popular in Rome. The main mosaic (2.91 x 3.14 m) depicts a water scene with the sea goddess Thetis and other mythological figures. Next to the Temple are the foundations of St. Sion church, built in 659. It was a variation of the central dome church type with cross wings and is considered a copy of the church of
ZvartnotsSummer Palace, which is approximately 15 x 40 meters in size, was a complex for rooms of household purposes, including a winery.

The spectacular towering cliffs surrounding Geghard monastery are part of the Symphony of Stones, and are included together with the monastery in the World Heritage Site listing. On a promontory above the gorge Garni temple may be seen. Along the sides of the gorge are cliff walls of well-preserved basalt regular hexagon cylinder-shaped columns. Those amazing rocks were formed in high-pressure conditions, from freezing and crystallization of volcanic lava. At the very bottom of the gorge you can find an 11th-century medieval bridge. Taking a left will lead along the river past a fish hatchery, up to the Khosrov Forest State Reserve. In the UN World Tourism Organization’s Competition of the touristic posters of 2013, Armenia was announced a winner with its "Symphony of Stones" poster.

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