Friday, July 5, 2013

Salt Lake City - Temple Square

Temple Square is a 10 acre complex located in the center of Salt Lake City, Utah and is the world headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints – more informally known as the Mormons.

Temple Square is pretty amazing. We were surprised at the beautiful gardens and just how immaculate everything was. Of course, all the volunteers that work around the Square, from guides, to hosts, to missionaries, to weed pullers, were very very friendly but not one of them tried to convert us. My guess is that they have learned over time to do the old “you can catch more flies with honey” routine than doing the hard sell.

Tourists are not allowed in the Temple, actually Mormons are not allowed in there except for very specific ceremonies and by invitation only, so we only have exterior pictures of it. The Temple was built over the course of 40 years with hand quarried granite from a local quarry 20 miles away.

View from the Joseph Smith Memorial Building
Garden Restaurant (very good)
The silver domed building is the Tabernacle

The Tabernacle, where the famed Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs is open to the public and we attended a noontime organ concert in the building.

The organist can control the lighting.
Not allowed to take pictures/video during
the organ concert.

The Conference Center is a phenomenal structure. This one building occupies 10 acres adjacent to Temple Square and its roof is a 6 acre garden. The building seats 21,000 people. There are free tour-guides available for all facilities associated with the LDS in this area but we did not take advantage of that until we went in the Conference Center. As we walked in the last available docent was leaving with a group and rather than making us wait, one of the hosts took just the 2 of us and gave us an amazing tour of the facility. He spent over 1.5 hours with us showing us around, answering our questions, and sharing with us his knowledge of the history of Christianity (LDS version) and the LDS Church.

Photo stolen from a web site.  I did not take this but
don't remember who to give credit to.

The 6 acre roof top garden of the Conference Center
(another pirated picture)
During the summer months the Conference Center is where the choir rehearses and we were lucky enough to attend a rehearsal with full orchestra. They were rehearsing all patriotic songs in preparation for their Independence Day celebration.

A few of the 21,000 seats
 This link will take you to a snippet of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing
"This is My Country" which happens to be my favorite patriotic song.
Mormon Tabernacle Choir Rehearsing "This Is My Country"

One other notable location in Temple Square is the Family History Library. Shelley spent 1.5 days in there researching family genealogy.  This place could be very intimidating but the many volunteers that are there are incredibly helpful. The facilities there are as you would expect – top notch and amazingly free.  If you belong to (as I do) you know it is owned by the Mormons and is not inexpensive.

I don't care what your religious (or lack thereof) bent/leaning/background is. Temple Square is a must see and do. Plan on spending an entire day.