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Disposed in the central region of the nation Kotayk province with its center in Hrazdan is a home to the most valuable monuments of the Christian architecture of the monasteries of Garni and Geghard, also the popular winter resort of Tsakhkadzor. Thanks to these prominent places in the region, it is actively visited tourist destination.
Being in the midst of the country, it is the only region, not bordering with other neighboring countries, but only encircled from all sides by other provinces.
It consists of 67 communities , 7 of which are urban and the remaining 60 are considered rural.
Gegard Monastery complex is an architectural marvel, a complex of churches carved inside the mountain. It was originally called Ayrivank or Monastery of caves and its history dates back to pre-Christian times.
Geghard is placed in Kotayk and well-known for its churches and tombs that attract masses of tourists with its extraordinary beauty of Armenian architecture. Here is a combination of different architectural elements with carvings and khachkars. It is also one of the vivified tourist goals in Armenia. The convent is begirt by cliffs of Azat river gorge, and the complex of medieval buildings, placed in the middle of the rock.
An inalienable part of the tour to Geghard is a visit of Garni Temple, built slightly below the river Azat.
Garni Temple is just ten kilometers from the above mentioned complex and, as a rule, when traveling always, these two monuments are combined in a single day visit. Most hikers get even on foot, as an option, and this hike takes about 2 hours.
Garni Temple really is a magnificent sight, it is the only remained monument of its kind, a pagan shrine of the Hellenistic period and preserved to this day. Distance from Yerevan is 28 km.
As known, the church was built in the first centenary AD by King Trdat I and probably was dedicated to the Mithras- sun god. After Armenia adopted Christianity, the sanctuary was not destroyed, but it then was used as the summer residence of the king.
Unfortunately, during the earthquake of 1679 the church was severely damaged and was almost wholly destroyed, and in the middle of the twentieth century, it became possible to restore its original structure. Today, around the temple are ruins of such buildings as the royal palace, the ancient fortress and the other. Particularly interesting among the buildings the royal baths with heating systems, which are well preserved. The flooring in the bath decorated with mosaics representing the scenes from Greek mythology. One of the inscriptions found here says – We were working without taking any payment.