Temple Square

A tour of Temple Square is on the list of things to do for virtually every visitor to Utah. More than 5 million people visit this most popular tourist attraction every year. If you add the total visitors of all five of the state's national parks together (Arches National Park, the Bryce Canyon area, Canyonlands, and Zion National Park), the sum is not much more than that. This vast ten-acre park contains the Salt Lake City Temple as well as numerous other sites important both to the general public as well as people of the Mormon faith.

The Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City is the largest of the more than 120 other Mormon temples, and was dedicated in 1893. This Salt Lake temple is not open to the public. It is the façade of the massive neo-Gothic granite church and the architectural and engineering feats required to create it that are so world famous. Many members of the public may mistakenly think that they are allowed entry into the Salt Lake Temple because the Mormon Tabernacle Choir concerts and rehearsals are open to the public. However, the Mormon Tabernacle is a separate Temple Square building that is itself an architectural and acoustic wonder. A pin dropped on the floor in the front of the auditorium can be heard in the back row. These incredible acoustics make the organ exceptionally rich sounding. With 11,623 pipes, this is the twelfth largest pipe organ in the world. Except for the organ in St. Stephen's Cathedral in Passau, Germany and the National Auditorium in Mexico City, the eleven larger organs are in the United States. The Tabernacle is open daily for tours as well as for Thursday evening concert rehearsals and for music and religious broadcasts on Sunday mornings.

Family and family history are very important to the Church of Latter-day Saints. Across the block from the Salt Lake City Temple is the Family History Library, containing the world's largest collection of genealogical records and resources. It is open daily, except Sundays. Next to the library is the Deuel Pioneer Log Home, typical of the homes built by the pioneers after they arrived in 1847.

There are two Visitors Centers on the corners of Temple Square diagonally across from each other and flanking the Salt Lake Temple and Tabernacle. Both are open seven days a week and can assist visitors plan their walking tours of the square and in deciding what things to do during their visit. The Assembly Hall is an ornate neo Gothic style building with numerous spires and lovely stained glass windows that was built in 1877. Here, you can attend free weekend concerts (no children under the age of eight in the evenings).

In blocks adjoining the Salt Lake City Temple and the main part of the square are: the Museum of Church History and Art, with hands on exhibits of pioneer history; Brigham Young Memorial Park that was once part of the Mormon leader's farm and where outdoor summer concerts are held; the Lion House, one of Brigham Young's former homes that currently houses a restaurant, social center, and shopping venues; and the Mormon Pioneer Monument that honors the more than 6,000 emigrants who died while crossing the Great Plains between 1847 and 1869. Also here is the famous and beautifully preserved Beehive House that was the mansion residence of Brigham Young. Built in 1954, this lovely house is a National Historic Landmark and today serves as a museum.

If you're deciding when to go, the weather is going to be the best during spring, summer, and autumn. But some of the best skiing in the United States is in Utah, and you will find that Temple Square is magnificently decorated and magically lit during the Christmas holidays. It is a great destination for a Salt Lake City day trip at the beginning or end of your ski Utah vacation. You will find great Temple Square hotels, plenty of restaurants and shopping venues nearby. Parking in the square is limited, but there is excellent public transportation from various points in the city.

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