Founded in I c B.C.
The fortress of Garni is situated in the village of the same name in the Kotayk District. That was a mighty fortress well known from chronicles (Cornelius Tacitus, Movses Khorenatsi, etc.). The structures of Garni combine elements of Hellenistic and national culture, which are evidences of antique influences and the distinctive building traditions of the Armenian people. Artistic merits and uniqueness of its monuments place Garni among outstanding creations of architecture of world importance. The temple was built in the second half of the first century B.C. and dedicated to Mitra, the god of the sun, whose figure stood in the depth of the sanctuary. After Christianity had been proclaimed the state religion in Armenia in 301, the temple was probably used as a summer residence of the kings. A chronicle describes it as ‘‘a house of coolness‘‘. Its architecture is very similar to the former Musasir temple in Armenia which had been destroyed. But it also has some influences from Hellenistic style. One of the most interesting phenomena of the temple is its bath- house which is situated in the northern part of the temple, at an angle to the residential block. Built in the third century, it comprised no less than five premises serving various purposes. The first room from the east was a dressing room; the second one was a cold-water bathroom, the third and fourth ones, warm and hot water bathrooms respectively. Of special interest is the soft-colour mosaic of the dressing room floor dating back to the 3rd-4th centuries, an outstanding example of monumental painting in central Armenia. Ocean and sea have been painted in the mosaic. Ocean symbolized the man and sea symbolized the woman. The mosaic has been preserved till our days. Garni Temple is the only monument which has been preserved from the pagan times of Armenia.