The now World famous Giant's Causeway has also a lesser known cousin in distant Armenia, around 30 km east of the Capital Yerevan. The Garni (or Karni) Gorge is almost as mystical as its Irish cousin, but sits high in the mountains and not on a seaside location. The Gorge, thes wonderful basaltic polygon columns and the vertical cliffs are almost perfect, as if made by very talented human architects and artists working with play-dough. The Garni Gorge's unique location is even more unique by the perfectly restored 1st century Hellenistic temple and palace complex of Garni sitting just above the cliffs (see Garni Temple story below, Part III). Most visitors from around the world flock to the Garni temple and the UNESCO World Heritage site Geghard monastery complex and the upper Azat valley, only 7 km to the east. Both Keghart and Garni are therefore considered part of the one and same destination in the region called Gotayk (province), but unfortunately few take the time or have the knowledge, time or desire to visit the spectacular Garni Gorge. What a loss!
Descending to the Gorge and feeling the geological miracle casually called the "Symphony of Stones" is an adventure and a very unique destination in its own right. Few natural sites can offer that much grandeur and humbling simplicity. Giant's Causeway and Garni Gorge are in fact geological distant cousins, but part of the same majestic Basalt Symphony composed by the greatest Composers of all time: Mother Nature. Garni Gorge in Armenia: The wonderful Organ Pipe basalt hexagon and pentagon columns as seen from behind the Hellenistic temple. Timeless Magic hanging from the air and a humbling experience to all visitors.
Both Garni and Giant's Causeway are believed to be millions of years old formations, 50 million by most estimates. The origins are of course volcanic eruptions, but what made these sites very unique was the particular cooling and solidifying processes of the boiling lava, which gave these almost perfect geometric forms and absurdly beautiful hanging columns. The rocks have multiple layers and show how the lavaeventually solidified, shrunk and formed these shapes over long periods of time. Volcanic basalt is not the hardest of rocks, and therefore millions of years have also resulted in erosion and weathering, giving both these sites a very unique look. The Giant's Causeway offers a wide variety of shapes and structures and some were given different names depending their shape or the morphology. Names such as the "Giant's Gate", "The Granny", "The Chimney" and most appropriately, the "Organ" or "Organ pipes" are among the most famous. As stated, in case of Garny Gorge, a well accepted popular name for the wonderful ensemble is "Symphony of Stones".
Who says Mother Nature is not a great musical composer or does not appreciate music? These supernatural natural Organ Pipes and their majestic surroundings are here to prove all doubters very wrong!