As we reached the Garni Temple entrance we came across quite a few street vendors selling local home-made products, some of which we decided to buy.
I personally went for a local speciality, walnut sujukh, long brown knobbly strings (to be seen hanging on the right of the photo). The overall appearance didn't put me off, as it did others in the group and I am glad it didn't because it proved to be really special.
Walnut halves are strung together and are then dipped into a rather thick grape syrup. This grape syrup is what remains after making grape vodka and is said to be usually sweet enough not to need extra sugar.
The syrup is boiled until it becomes thick enough to coat the walnuts, then small amounts of cinnamon, cloves and cardamom are added.
As we would soon be listening to a liturgical concert in the Garni Temple and still had some time left strolled around the entrance area so as to take some photographs of the panoramic views of the green valley of the Azat river.
The peripteros temple resting on an elevated podium was quite imposing with its entablature supported by 24 Ionic columns. It is Armenia's only Graeco-Roman style building, said to be a 1st century pagan temple, most probably devoted to Mithra, though it has been recently suggested it might have been a tomb built for a Romanised ruler, Sohaemus, in which case its construction may have been carried out in AD175.
The concert was second to none. The voices of the choir group were extraordinary and though completely different blended majestically. They sang a set of liturgical songs followed by a set of folkloric ones. I filmed the whole concert to be able to thoroughly listen to it some other time and I must confess I am particularly glad I had the filming camera with me.
As we were listening to Armine's explanations I had to unexpectedly sit down because for the first time during the trip I felt really bad and had to throw up. It took me some time to actually "recover", as soon after I felt I could faint at any time. I didn't pay too much attention to what was being said and had to complement the little I was able to listen to with what I managed to read that same evening.
The building did look like a miniature Parthenon with nine steep steps leading up to the interior, where the choir had sung, in which an altar and sacrificial pit were constructed.
The Ionic capitals were decorated with moulded volutes and ovae and leaf ornaments whcih differed from column to column. The frieze showed fronds of acanthus, grapes and pomegranate combined with flowers and rosettes of various shapes and outlines.
The bath-house was situated in the Northern part of th square. A notion of its interior decoration could be made out from the remains of the mosaic decoration (Gods of the Ocean and Sea framed by fish and nereids) and the fragments of the plaster-layer which survived.
As we were leaving I looked back, so as to have a "distant" perspective of what I had just seen and which despite my temporary sickness I had thoroughly liked.