Possibly the most fascinating place we visited on our first time in Armenia was the amazing Garni temple. This is a very surprising place to see in Armenia since it is a pre-Christian construction which looks exactly like something you would expect to see in the Greek part of the Mediterranean. Indeed it is the only ancient building in Greco-Roman style anywhere in Armenia or other parts of the former Soviet Union making it a pretty unique place.
The temple was probably built in the first century by an Armenian king and there was quite a big settlement in the area. Today all that remain from the ancient time is the large temple which is standing prominently at cliff high above the valley below.
The area around the temple is a museum area – but you can actually get a good view of the temple from a road or a restaurant just outside the temple. But I think it is well worth going inside the area and go and see the temple up close. You can get inside the temple which you can’t do from afar.
It doesn’t take long to visit the temple so a stop here is an all-day affair and you can do other stuff along the way as well. But if you have made it to the temple make sure you go and get the view from the edge of the cliff next to the temple – it is pretty stunning.
There is also a little construction close to the temple where there is an excavation of the old settlement. A lot of people seem to miss this feature which is a shame. It isn’t the most interesting archeological remain but it worth to go under the cover and have a look at it.
One thing which really surprised me about the Garni temple today is how many guest come to visit. I still remember going here six years ago when we had the place all to ourselves – today it was really difficult to go and get a shot of the temple without a large tour group standing in front of the temple.
After the visit it was time for a little late lunch. We found a restaurant down a little trail close to the temple. And here we could sit and have lunch with a view of the temple and the valley. The restaurant was a bit overpriced but where else can you sit and eat looking at a Greek temple.