Temple Square Highlights – Salt Lake City Utah

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Salt Lake City – Temple Square

My road trip of the US just keeps getting better!

Visiting Utah’s Temple Square in Salt Lake City was a highlight of my 9-week US vacation.

Temple Square is a beautifully landscaped 10-acre complex surrounded by a cluster of historic buildings. The temple is owned and maintained by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints including three buildings built by the LDS pioneers.

Historic Architecture
1. Temple
2. Tabernacle
3. Assembly Hall 

Salt Lake City | New Beginnings 

In April 1847, the Mormons as they were commonly known, were forced to move their settlement in Iowa. They headed west to escape religious discrimination and violent protests. Seeking religious and political freedom, the Mormons began planning their great migration from the east. After the founder and prophet Joseph Smith was murdered, Brigham Young and his fellow members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints reached the valley of Great Salt Lake on 24 July 1847.

Many LDS members died from the cold and harsh conditions trekking over the Rocky Mountains. The pioneers found Salt Lake Valley remote and very challenging however ideal for a new settlement. They promptly marked off an acre of land reserved for a temple and began laying out the city streets, planting vegetables and setting up irrigation systems.

By the beginning of 1848, thousands of Mormons made the difficult trek to Salt Lake Valley. The Mormons began creating a ‘kingdom in the tops of the mountains.’

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Pioneer Day | Celebrating Disversity 

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On July 24 each year, Utah celebrates ‘Pioneer Day’ with a state holiday. The celebration commemorates the arrival of Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers into Utah’s Salt Lake Valley in 1847.

This day celebrates and acknowledges the bravery of the original settlers and their strength of character and physical endurance.

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Top Utah Architectural Buildings

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The Trinity Buildings

Temple

The six spired granite Temple was built by Mormon pioneers between 1853 and 1893. The white granite walls at the base of the temple are 9 feet thick, and 6 feet thick at the top. In this building members perform sacred ordinances such as baptisms and marriages.

Only LDS members are permitted inside. No tours of the temple are available. From the South Visitors Centre, there is an interactive scale model of the Temple, where visitors can view the intricate details of each room. 

Choir Rehearsals

Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearsals most Thursdays from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. inside the Tabernacle on Temple Square.

This is a free event and no tickets required. Doors open from 7:00pm.

Click here to hear the Tabernacle Choir. 

Tabernacle

The Mormon Tabernacle Salt Lake City is home of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Orchestra at Temple Square and Bells on Temple Square. The public is invited to choir and orchestra rehearsals and broadcasts held in the Tabernacle.

Attend a Live Performance

On Sunday mornings, visitors to Salt Lake City can attend a live broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word featuring the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

No tickets required, admission is free but is limited to 8 years of age and older.

Doors open to the public at 8:30 am, and guests are required to be seated by 9:15 am, when the doors are closed. The broadcast is 30 minutes in length and ends at 10:00 am.

Assembly Hall

Located on the southwest corner of Temple Square you will find the historic Assembly Hall. A charming gothic-style building with white spires and colourful stained-glass windows. The building was constructed by LDS pioneers between 1877 and 1882. The blocks of irregular shaped granite came from the same quarry as the Salt Lake Temple. All the cracks were filled with mortar to give the building a more finished look.

Today, the Assembly Hall is used as a place of worship for congregations in the area. In addition to its function as a place of worship, the Assembly Hall is also used for lectures, recitals, and weekend concerts. Local or international artists perform free on Friday or Saturday night.

Check out the event calendar for more details on upcoming performances.

Six Granite Spires

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Family History Library

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Your Family Tree

Since 1894, Mormons have gathered genealogical records to assist members trace their family histories. The Family Search Centre is located on the lobby level of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, behind the circular tabernacle, on the east side of Temple Square. It is the largest collection of genealogical and historic records of its kind in the world.

The focus of the Family History Library is to invite visitors to search their family tree utilising the digital information available to everyone. The Family History Library has 550 internet-enabled computers, access to over 1 million rolls of microfilm on-site along with, over 600,000 books, series and maps. The centre employs 45 full and part-time staff and 550 volunteers from all over the global who are dedicated to helping visitors discover more about their families.

Discover Your Ancestors The Easy Way

The first step to building a family tree is to open a Family Search account with your own personal username and password. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints help to facilitate the start-up process and provide a tutorial on how to create an account and search the database efficiently.  The system is very user friendly and once your account is set up you can add to your family tree from anywhere in the world, all you need is access to a computer and the internet.

Visitors have free access to billions of additional record images online. The Library also offers free access to film, book, and photo scanning equipment to help visitors digitally preserve and share family records. The library focuses on persons who lived before 1930 because of privacy restrictions.  

This is a free service and I highly recommended you add this fun activity to your visit to Salt Lake City. To learn more visit the Family Search website.  

Tip: Bring a big flash drive to save your family history information.

Gardens of Temple Square

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The Temple Square gardens are magnificent and attracts droves of locals and tourists all year round. The square encompasses 35 acres of prime city real estate and beautified by 1000s of flowering plants of various species. Many of the blooms are native to over 100 different countries, representing the world-wide following of the LDS Church.

The gardens are redesigned every 6 months and replanted by 100s of volunteers. The purpose of the gardens development and design was to beautify the temple grounds and produce a ‘Garden of Eden’ type environment to remind visitors of the creation of mankind. No matter what part of Temple Square you wander, the gardens are gorgeous, and photography never does them true justice. 

Free 1-hour tours of the Church Office Building Plaza, which includes gardens surrounding the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, Lion House, Beehive House, and Conference Centre roof gardens, are offered between April and September. For garden tour information click here 

Duration: 45 – 60 minutes Parking

Allow Plenty of Time

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Check out some of my other USA blog posts:

Taming the Colorado River | Pre Hoover Dam
There is no city on earth quite like Charleston
Zion National Park | Travellers Guide

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