This neo-Gothic centerpiece of Temple Square is an imposing sight that is closed to the general public, but highly revered by followers of the Mormon Church.
Salt Lake Temple is famous for its epic construction that took 39 years to complete. The granite building is one of the earlier temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). It’s the centerpiece of Temple Square in the heart of Salt Lake City. Only Mormons can enter the building, but sightseers can admire the sculptures adorning its exterior. Go to the South Visitors’ Center next door to learn about the building’s history.
Mormons from all over the world have come to this esteemed building to worship for over 120 years. The first Mormon pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake City area in 1847, when it was still part of Mexico. Establishing an illustrious temple was important to the pioneers’ faith. Pack animals carried huge granite blocks down the canyon to the construction site. There were several setbacks during the building process, including the Utah War in 1858. The temple was finally completed in 1892 and dedicated the following year.
The result of all those years of painstaking work is evident in the temple’s features. The spires are more than 200 feet (60 meters) tall and the building covers more than 200,000 square feet (nearly 19,000 square meters). The exterior reflects the style of a neo-Gothic castle, with ornate symbolic carvings and elaborate sculptures. Read the gold-lettered inscriptions on the building; look for carvings of the “all-seeing eye” and “secret handshake.” These symbols were borrowed from the Freemasons and have been given a Mormon interpretation. Those of Mormon faith can enter the temple to see the Celestial Room and partake in endowment rituals.
The Tabernacle building at the temple’s base was completed in 1875. This building has almost perfect acoustics and houses a large timber pipe organ. Tour the Tabernacle with a guide, or attend a choir rehearsal on Thursday evenings.
The South Visitors’ Center, open daily, has photographs of the Salt Lake Temple’s interior and information about its construction.
The Salt Lake Temple is in the center of the city and easily reached by public transport. Parking is limited.