Garni Mashtots Hayrapet Church
The Ancient Church
Chronologically, the church of the Garni fortress is the oldest. The ruins of it were discovered to the west of the Garni Temple. Some researchers date the church to the 7th century AD based on the floor plan, a piece of the window frame and a historical account. However, according to Kirakos Gandzaketsi the church was built in the time of Catholicos Mashtots.
Made of red tufa, the church is situated at the right of the entrance upon a low rock wall. This site used to be a pagan shrine. It has on it the design of a bird perched on a floral stem with the rosette of eternity under its tail, which is believed to represent the sun and the moon symbolizing the eternal cycle of life, death and rebirth.
Other Sites to See
There are many other sites of interest in the village of Garni where Mashtots Hayrapet is located. You can visit the Temple of Garni, Surb Astvatsatsin Church, a ruined Tukh Manuk Shrine, St. Sargis Shrine and a Queen Katranide Shrine. Across the Garni gorge is the Havuts Tar Monastery, in the Khosrov Reserve.
You can get to the Mashtots Hayrapet Church from Yerevan by a taxi that will cost you about 3000 AMD (~8 USD) and the ride will take not more than an hour. Alternatively, you can take a minibus in Nor Nork District in Yerevan. Next to the Palace trade center, a few steps from the bus stop, there are buses running to Garni. The fare of the minibus is about AMD 250 (~70 cents).