Fortress of Garni

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The Garni Fortress is located twenty-eight kilometers from Yerevan, on a hill southwest of the village in Abovian region. It takes its name from an inscription discovered in Garni and traced back to the king’s Argichti that shows information that the region was called “Giarniani”.

In Armenia the central area of the Garni fortress has been since its founding one of the most important places for the Armenian culture. The history of the fortress should be seen in the more general history of the Armenian nation that develops from the XXXV century BC.

Of all the forts, in Armenia has been handed down very little because of their degradation due to time and the many wars that slowly contributed to the demolition of nearly every existing building.
Garni, however, is an exception. The site where once stood the fortress remained protected because over the centuries has undergone such as building layers and alterations losing all traces of existing buildings.

Until now it was not possible, by analyzing the ruins and texts, to determine the exact date of construction of the fortress. We can be certain, however, that the Garni fortress already existed in the third century BC during the reign of Erwandides. The Armenian architectural culture developedon his own. The Armenian people never gave up, rather increased traditional building traditions. For the Garni fortress this aspect is very obvious; in fact, it remained for a long time a development center of this culture between Hellenism and tradition. The fort was built on a triangular promontory and is protected from south-east by a unsurpassed overhanging and the other sides by a series of fortifications. The defense wall is provided with fourteen towers about thirty meters away from each other. These towers become denser where the terrain is less rugged,about twelve meters one from the other. They are rettangolare. Probably,according to the indications which has come from the excavations, we can say that the walls and towers were embattled. We can synthesize the construction phases into four periods:

The first period can be detected between the third and the second century BC, that includes construction of the walls and rectangular towers whose equipment and cut of the stone have been carried out with great care.

The second period identifies some sections of the walls and towers that are made according to the same technique. The stones have virtually the same size, but have a different finishing of the outer faces of the stone blocks of a lower quality than the oldest stones . This part was built in 76 AD.

The third period introduced the construction of the round tower added in the eastern part of the entrance. Unlike the construction technique of the previous periods, the walls are dressed without iron clamps and malta is used as a binder between stones.

The fourth period covers the fortress rebuilt; were used small blocks of stone and mortar, with the “bag construction technique” which was very widespread also in Armenia.

Inside the fort there are ruins of civil and religious buildings that have a great architectural and artistic interest: the pagan temple, baths with a mosaic floor, the remains of some buildings. These buildings, grouped together at south of the fortress, depict an original architectural ensemble for their mutual relationship . The temple shapes the compositional center of this set and its main facade is oriented towards the entrance of the fortress.