Garni Temple and Geghard Monastery Tour
Garni Temple, Garni Fortress, Mashtots Hayrapet Church, Geghard Monastery
On the Garni Temple and Geghard Monastery Tour, a short drive from Yerevan will take you back 2000 years to Armenia’s formative days. Discover Garni Temple, Armenia’s only pagan shrine, and survey the world from Garni Fortress, palace of kings. Trace the conversion from paganism to Christianity at Mashtots Hayrapet Church before losing yourself in the caves and crypts of Geghard Monastery.
Garni Temple stands apart in Christianized Armenia as the nation’s only pagan temple, a spectacular 1st-century oddity whose Greco-Roman façade never fails to impress. Nearby Geghard Monastery, a complex of churches carved into the mountain and linked by a series of tunnels and caves, is equally astounding.
In the morning, meet your private guide and driver for your day tour. Drive to Garni in Kotayk Province (30km, 45min), where you’ll tour the following:
- Garni Temple (1st century AD), ancient Temple of the Sun dedicated to Mithra and built by King Tiridates. Admire the huge basalt slabs as you explore this Hellenistic structure, which strongly mirrors the architecture of the Greco-Roman Empire.
- Garni Fortress (3rd-2nd centuries BC), a once-powerful fort and the summer residence of Armenian kings, it is perched atop a plateau overlooking the Azat River from a height of 300 meters.
- Mashtots Hayrapet Church (12th century), a small chapel located in Garni village, it was built to replace a pagan temple and is noted for its cross stone khachkars and pre-Christian carvings.
Depart Garni and drive to Geghard (10km, 20min).
Explore Geghard Monastery (4th century), a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Upper Azat Valley. Also known as Ayrivank Monastery, it is famous for its stone veneers, bas-reliefs and stunning scenery. Explore its tombs and tunnels and see the spear believed to have pierced Christ's body (‘geghard’ means 'spear' in Armenian). Return to Yerevan (40km, 1hr).
Tour duration: approximately 5 hours
- Private, local guide;
- Entrance fees to the sights as per itinerary;
- Transportation throughout the tour.
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