Garni Temple is located in Kotayk, a province of Armenia and is the only pagan structure to have survived the widespread destruction from Christianity as it was considered a mausoleum while all known pagan places of worship were destroyed. This is at least the prevailing view.
The temple is a peripteral (a temple surrounded by a portico with columns) built on an elevated podium and is surrounded by twenty-four high columns of the Ionic order, ending in a triangular pediment, and is decorated with reliefs, basalt columns, eaves, and carved capitals. It is dedicated to the god Mihr (who is identified with the Mithra of the Persians and the Sun god of the Greeks), and his statue was inside the temple, so that it is visible even to those who prayed outside the building.
The precise construction date of the temple is unknown and is subject to debate. The dominant view is that it was built in 77 AD, during the reign of king Tiridates I of Armenia with the funding from the Roman emperor Nero but some historians attribute its construction to the Armenian king “Trdat".
The temple was looted by Timur in 1386 and it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1679. Its fragments were scattered throughout the gorge of the Azat River. Reconstruction work began in 1966 by the then Soviet Union. The temple was completely restored to its original form almost by its own members, as the residents had been collecting the pieces of the damaged building from the neighboring slopes for years. Some missing items were replaced with modern ones.
The film opens with outdoor vendors and visitors outside the temple and along the way we see shots from the exterior of the temple.