Garni Temple, Gilan Village and Kakavaberd

MODERATE 1 reviews

Garni Temple, Gilan Village and Kakavaberd is a 6.8 kilometer moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Urtsadzor, Kotayk', Armenia that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from March until September.

6.8 km
494 m
Out & Back



nature trips



wild flowers


historic site

no dogs

Overview This hike is located along the shared border of the Kotayk and Ararat provinces. The route takes hikers past some significant landmarks including the Temple of Garni, located in Garni village, Gilan village (8 km away), the Khosrov Reserve and Kakavaberd Fortress. Hikers can choose to spend the night in Gilan and hike a few more routes, as well as interact with locals to experience some delicious Armenian cuisine and hospitality. The route returns via the same path. Cultural and Historic monuments Kakavaberd, also known as Keghvaberd, is a medieval fortress on the right bank of the Azat River, in the Mazaz region of the Ararat province. The Armenian Catholicos and historian Hovhannes Draskhanakertsi, first mentions Kakavaberd, in the 9th century, as the ancestral land of the Bagratuni Dynasty. According to Draskhanakertsi’s writings, in 924, the Arab commander, Beshir, attacked the fortress but was defeated by the commander, Gevorg Marzpetuni. However, Marzpetuni’s forces were diminished, and they soon sought refuge elsewhere, leaving the fortress to be taken by Beshir. In the 11th century, control of it passed to the Pahlavuni family and between the 12-13th centuries it was under the rule of the Proshyan family. The fortress was last mentioned in 1224, when, after losing a battle near Garni, Ivane Zakarian sought shelter there. The fortress is currently still standing and well preserved. Built on the top of a high mountain – at an altitude of 2,066 m, it is unreachable on three sides, due to the natural layout of the landscape and the walls which stretch all along the north-eastern side, with widths and heights of 2-2.5 m and 8-10 m respectively, and a large number of fortified towers. Inside the fortress lie the remains of a preserved church and a number of other ruins. Gilan village is located 8 km from Garni, in the Khosrov Reserve. There is no school, village administration or hospital in the village. Gilan does not technically have village status, but people live here together with their families, without any major issues. Here, 20 families work together to cultivate their land, plant new trees and enjoy the large variety of fruits and vegetables that this land provides them with year round. All the people of this old village are highly hospitable, and often host tourists during the summer months, offering them tasty traditional Armenian dishes and a place to stay. The pagan Temple of Garni is located on the right bank of the Azat River. Legend ascribes Garni’s founding to Hayk Nahapet’s (the ancestor of all Armenians) great-grandson, Gegham, who named the temple of Garni after his grandson Garnik. The fortress of Garni was built in the Hellenistic architectural style, on the high triangular promontory, during the reign of King Tiridates I (Trdat, in Armenian) in the year 76. The fortress of Garni was destroyed several times throughout the centuries, but Armenian kings would always restore it – turning it into a summer residence, a place for the military exercises of troops and even an Episcopal Residence. Archaeological excavations around Garni have found late Bronze Age tombs, early Urartian and Armenian cuneiform and ceramic inscriptions, attributed to King Argishti, and an urban settlement in front of the fortress, the traces of which had been covered by medieval and modern buildings. There is also a medieval cemetery on the northern side of the village with carved khachkars (cross stones) and inscriptions on the tombs. Currently the temple of Garni attracts numerous tourists visiting Armenia with its well-preserved majestic architecture and carvings. The temple is open for everyone throughout all four seasons and at night; it is dressed in the beautiful glow of coloured lights. Khosrov Reserve is under strict protection by the State of Armenia. The Khosrov Forest (including Urts Reserve and Garni Reserve) was once the hunting grounds of the 4th century Armenian king, Khosrov G. Kotak (Khosrov III the Small), after whom it is named. It was during his reign that, according to Khorenatsi, the forest grew noticeably in size. The reserve extends from the Arax River to the Azat River. At an altitude of 1,600-2,300 m, and with an area of 27,000 hectares, the reserve has been under State protection since 1958, in order to preserve, improve and propagate existing and new species of flora and fauna. The Kakavaberd Fortress, the Geghard, Havuts Tar, and St. Stephanos (Stepanos) Monasteries, a church carved into a cave, a medieval bridge and other historical monuments can be found in the Khosrov Forest. Azat River flows through the forest, with its abundant tributaries forming numerous rapids and magnificent waterfalls. Route Characteristics Best Time/Weather: April to October Route Distance: 7.6 km Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes (do not rely on the GPS-derived time) Altitude (from Sea Level): 1,570-2,066 m Existing Trail Surface: 100% existing Distance from Yerevan: 26 km (37 min)