Attracting approximately five million visitors a year, Salt Lake City’s Temple Square is the most popular destination in Utah. Here are seven sights you won’t want to miss when you visit.
Temple Square sits on ten beautifully maintained acres in the heart of Salt Lake City. During the spring and summer months, the Temple Square grounds are full of colorful flowers and lush lawns. During the holiday season, Temple Square is adorned with hundreds of thousands of lights from Thanksgiving into the new year. Within Temple Square, there are nearly 20 sights related to the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Here are seven sights you won’t want to miss when visit.
1 – Salt Lake Temple
The Salt Lake Temple is the worldwide icon of the LDS Church and the crown jewel of Temple Square. More than 40 years of hard work and amazing craftsmanship went into building the Salt Lake Temple. When construction began in 1853, it took four days for each block of stone to be hauled from nearby Little Cottonwood Canyon to the construction site by teams of oxen. When the Transcontinental Railroad was completed approximately 15 years into the project, things got much easier.
Fun Fact: The Utah State Capitol was also built from stone quarried in nearby Little Cottonwood Canyon.
While visitors of all faiths and beliefs are welcome to explore Temple Square, only members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may enter the neo-gothic temple. So, when you’re done exploring the grounds around the temple, head to the Temple Square South Visitors’ Center.
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2 – Temple Square South Visitors’ Center
Directly to the south of the Salt Lake Temple is the Temple Square South Visitors’ Center. The South Visitors’ Center focuses on the foundational beliefs of the LDS Church and the Salt Lake City Temple. Several displays show the level of detail and craftsmanship that went into the stone, wood, and other materials used to build the interior and exterior of the temple. But what I enjoyed most was the interactive guide to the temple’s interior and the scale model on display. Since I will never be able to see the inside of the temple in person, these were fascinating alternatives.
While visitors of all faiths are invited to explore the grounds of Temple Square, only members of the LDS Church are allowed inside the massive, granite temple. But, you can get a glimpse inside at the Temple Square South Visitors' Center via interactive displays and this model. #temple #templesquare #saltlake #saltlakecity #utah #visitslc
Fun Fact: Temple Square is staffed by young, female missionaries from around the world. Beginning with the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, each sister missionary wears a name tag that includes her country’s flag.
3 – Assembly Hall and Nauvoo Bell
The Assembly Hall is a Victorian Gothic-style building with stained-glass windows. Originally designed as a congregation hall, today the Assembly Hall hosts complimentary, hour-long concerts.
Outside the Assembly Hall is the Nauvoo Bell. The 780 pound Nauvoo Bell was removed from the Nauvoo temple in Nauvoo, Illinois and brought by wagon train to Salt Lake City when the Mormons were forced to flee Illinois due to religious persecution.
Pro Tip: Free tours of the Temple Square grounds are offered in more than 40 languages. Or, you can follow this self-guided walking tour of Mormon Pioneer history that includes Temple Square and more.
4 – Salt Lake Tabernacle
The domed Salt Lake Tabernacle is home to the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Tabernacle organ. Completed in 1867, the tabernacle was considered an architectural wonder for the time. Its elliptical (or turtle-like) design makes it possible for a pin dropped at the pulpit to be clearly heard at the back of the hall. Famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright called the Salt Lake Tabernacle “one of the architectural masterpieces of the country and perhaps the world.”
Fun Fact: The Tabernacle was also home to the Utah Symphony until Abravanel Hall was constructed in 1979.
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5 – Deuel Pioneer Log House
Continuing to tour Temple Square in a clockwise fashion, you’ll find the Deuel Pioneer Log House just north of the Family History Library. The first pioneers arriving in the Salt Lake Valley lived in structures like this log home. This specific log cabin was the home of William Henry Deuel.
Fun Fact: The Deuel Pioneer Log House is one of only two surviving log homes built by Mormon Pioneers in 1847.
6 – Temple Square North Visitors’ Center
The main attraction in the Temple Square North Visitors’ Center is the 11-foot statue of Jesus Christ known as the Christus. Prominently displayed in a domed room with a celestial backdrop of clouds, stars, and planets, Christus is the work of Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen. Other famous statues by Thorvaldsen include the statue of Nicolaus Copernicus in Warsaw, Poland and the tomb monument of Pope Pius VII in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
Fun Fact: Thorvaldsen’s tomb monument of Pope Pius VII is the only work by a non-Catholic inside St. Peter’s Basilica. Because he was a Protestant and not a Catholic, the church did not allow him to sign his work.
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7 – Statue of Joseph and Emma Smith
End your tour of Temple Square at the statue of Joseph and Emma Smith. Joseph Smith founded the LDS Church and published the Book of Mormon when he was 24. Joseph Smith married Emma Hale in 1827 and the couple had nine children together. But tragically, only four of their children lived to be adults. Over the next 17 years until his death in 1844, Joseph Smith would have 27 other wives besides Emma.
What about you?
Have you visited Salt Lake City’s Temple Square? Share your experiences in the comments section below!