Our last stop in the beautiful World Heritage-listed Azat Valley was Garni Temple and the Symphony of Stones rock formation. Garni Temple (🎫1500 AMD) was built by Armenia’s King Trdat I in the 1st century AD. This Hellenic-style temple on the edge of a gorge overlooking the Azat River was dedicated to the sun god Mitra. Largely destroyed by an earthquake in 1679, the Parthenon-like structure was rebuilt between 1969 and 1975. It features a monumental staircase and Ionic columns topped by a frieze. Next to the temple are the ruins of a Roman-era bathhouse (closed to the public) and a 7th-century church. After the visit to the temple, we walked down the valley to see the result of the collapse of the volcanic rocks. The Symphony of Stones rock formation (🎫200 AMD) consists of massive paradoxically symmetric hexagon and pentagon basalt columns (nearly 50 meters high). These stones hanging against gravity resemble an organ, which explains why it is also referred to as “Basalt Organ Pipes.” Then we returned to the truck (1,5 km walk) and bought delicious raspberries (1 kg / 1500 AMD).
Parking location – Garni: 40.117611N 44.729914E (🚻)