Garni Temple

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The temple of Garni was built in the second half of the first century B.C. and dedicated to a heathen god, Mithra (Mihr in Armenian), the god of the sun. It stands on a high podium with a two-step base and is surrounded with 24 columns. A broad nine-step stairway leads up to the podium. The sides of the stairway are decorated with bas-relief, placed symmetrically relative to the main axis of the building. There are also ruins of mosaic ancient baths and residences in Garni. The structures of the temple combine elements of Hellenistic and national culture, which is an evidence of antique influences and the distinctive building traditions of the Armenian people. The structure of the fortress of Garni is in perfect harmony with the surrounding nature. It is situated in a picturesque mountain locality and commands a broad panorama of orchards, fields and mountain slopes covered with motley carpets of varicoloured grasses, of the jagged and precipitous canyon of the Azat River. After Christianity had been proclaimed the state religion in Armenia in 301, the temple was used as a summer residence of the kings.