The Garni Temple is a renovated Hellenistic temple in Garni, Armenia. It is now the only Greco-Roman structure standing in Armenia and the former Soviet Union.
The temple is the most known symbol of pre-Christian Armenia. In all likelihood, the temple was built by King Trdat I of Armenia in the 1st century AD and was originally dedicated to the god of sun Mihr.
After the adoption of Christianity in 301 AD, the temple was converted into the summer house of Khosrovidukht, the sister of Trdat III.
Some scholars consider the structure a tomb rather than a temple, which is why it avoided being destructed like other pagan structures in the region. Nonetheless, the temple was ruined in a 1679 earthquake.
But thanks to renewed interest, the temple has undergone reconstruction between 1969 and 1975. Today, the Garni temple is one of the main sights in Armenia as well as the main shrine of Armenian Neopaganism.
The temple is called the Temple of Helios by some accounts. Before, the deity was considered to have originated in India and then developed into its Zoroastrian form in Persia and Armenia during the Bronze and Iron Ages. Later, its worship spread to Ancient Greece by the remains of Alexander the Great’s army in the 3rd-2nd centuries BC.
However, other records tell that Mihr became the god-patron of the Roman Empire before the establishment of Christianity. Additionally, earlier frescos and bas-reliefs of Mihr exist.
And during the 1st century, the Roman legions acquainted with the concept of Helios were impacted by the older Armenian and Persian versions.
The Temple of Garni was built on a top of a rock. It featured the same floor size as the Urartian Temple of Susi in Erebuni (5.05 x 798 meters). They both feature north-east orientation, unlike Christian temples built in an east-west manner with the altar in their eastern side.
Temple of Garni «Garni Tachar»