No trip to Salt Lake City is complete without a visit to the spiritual centre of the city: Temple Square. This is where you’ll find the world headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints - but you don’t need to be a religious person to appreciate the history and the passion of the church that founded the state of Utah.
The Temple Creativecommons.org/Bryan Mills
Built over a period of 40 years, the Temple is a magnificent granite structure and has the largest floor area of any of the LDS temples. The building is sacred and only open to members of the church, but the exterior features the six large spires, symbolic of the priesthood, adorned with smaller spires representing the 12 apostles. An image of the Big Dipper shows the importance of the stars in helping travellers find their way to the church.
This intriguing domed building is the home of the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir that performs concerts accompanied by the equally amazing 12,000 pipe organ. Although the interior appears understated, the exquisite acoustics allow even those in the back row of a packed house to hear a pin dropped on stage. The scheduled tours demonstrate the sound quality, but a much better way to enjoy the tabernacle is by attending an organ recital or a performance of the choir.
The Hall features Victorian Gothic architecture with decorative spires and stained glass windows. Spires mark the exterior footprint, and Stars of David are inscribed above the entrances. The interior is hand-carved wood and a beautiful pipe organ is used during the Friday and Saturday night Temple Square Concert Series.
As you wander through Temple Square, enjoy the 35 acres of flowers and bedding plants representing 700 varieties of plants from around the world. The gardens are revamped twice a year and replanted by hundreds of volunteers.
Just outside the walls of Temple Square, the Beehive House was one of two homes used by Brigham Young and is named for the beehive sculpture atop the building. Touring the building provides a fascinating insight into polygamous life in the 19th century. Although Brigham Young is believed to have had as many as 55 wives, his second wife was the primary hostess at Beehive House.
Family History Library
The genealogy library is world-renowned and contains 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed records including microfiche, books, serials, periodicals and electronic records. The volunteers are highly knowledgeable and can assist visitors in finding records from Ellis Island, census data or any type of historical document that they may have. The church continues to actively gather historical data and add it to their collection.
Family Search Center – Joseph Smith Memorial Building
The building houses conference centers, a theater that shows free films depicting the history of the church, and also contains the Family Search Center, a very user-friendly room that allows visitors to search their own family records available in online databases.