Temple Square

Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah (A)

The heart of Salt Lake City - both spiritually and geographically - is the Mormon Temple Square. The streets of the city are named by their directional relationship to Temple Square, whose location was chosen specifically by Brigham Young in 1847 to begin the building of the church's foundation in Utah.
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Sights Featured in This Article

Guide Name: Temple Square
Guide Location: USA » Salt Lake City
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 13
Tour Duration: 3.0 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles
Author: Jim Reynoldson
Author Bio: Jim Reynoldson is an avid traveler and writer who grew up in Oregon. He enjoys hiking, camping, and sightseeing throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • LDS Church Office Building
  • LDS Church History Library
  • LDS Conference Center
  • Museum of Church History & Art
  • Mormon Tabernacle
  • Family History Library
  • Assembly Hall
  • Salt Lake LDS Temple/Brigham Young Memorial
  • Joseph Smith Memorial Building
  • Lion House
  • Beehive House
  • Eagle Gate
  • Brigham Young Historical Park
LDS Church Office Building

1) LDS Church Office Building

This massive, rather sterile-looking hulk of a 28-story building lacks the charm of many of the other buildings in Temple Square. This is, after all, where the church’s business is done. However, it is worth a visit for a couple of reasons. First, it offers incredible photographic opportunities of the surrounding buildings and scenery from its 26th-floor observation deck. Also, free guided tours of the building’s gorgeous gardens are offered daily. Construction of the building was completed in 1972, at a cost of about $31 million, and stands at about 420 feet high. Interestingly, two men recently base-jumped from the top of the building, landing in an empty parking lot below and into a getaway car before police arrived - subsequently posting the video of the jump online.
Image Courtesy of landoncliff.
LDS Church History Library

2) LDS Church History Library

This library of LDS Church history sits adjacent to the LDS Conference center and just across from the LDS Temple. It specializes in a number of resources chronicling the church’s history from 1830 to the present in the form of books, documents, manuscripts, microforms, pamphlets, architectural drawings, oral history recordings, photographs, and audiovisual materials. One very interesting feature for history buffs is a collection of transcriptions from overland journals from Mormon settlers between 1847 and 1868. Admission is free and open to the general public. Opened in 2009 to better accommodate storage needs for church history archives, this library spans 230,000 square feet with climate-controlled storage rooms for the archiving of sensitive materials.
LDS Conference Center

3) LDS Conference Center

One of the more unique buildings in the city, the LDS Conference Center’s exterior contains a multi-terraced façade, a seven-acre rooftop garden, and a waterfall spilling from the top. Construction completed in 2000, the inside features a 21,000-seat hall with a massive pipe organ for the church’s annual conference, as well as a host of musical performances (including the Mormon Tabernacle Choir) and other events. Like the city’s Mormon Temple, the Conference Center is made of granite quarried from Little Cottonwood Canyon, and the building contains a staggering 1.4 million square feet of floor space. Free tours are offered daily from 9 am till 9 pm.
Museum of Church History & Art

4) Museum of Church History & Art

If you have an interest in the history of the Mormon Church, this museum offers a wide array of artifacts, artwork, and information from the church’s founding in 1830. While there is a fascinating focus upon Mormon pioneer history (of course), exhibits also range from artwork both religious and secular, the Mormon experience outside of the United States, children’s art, and quilting and needlework. In addition, the Museum of Church History and Art sponsors a juried art competition and exhibition every three years of LDS artists. Admission is free, with hours of 9am to 9pm on Monday through Friday, and 10am to 7pm on weekends.
Mormon Tabernacle

5) Mormon Tabernacle

The domed Tabernacle building is the home of the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir and was the first building construction completed in Temple Square in 1867. The acoustics are truly impressive, along with the 11,623-pipe organ. Entrance is free to view the inside of the Tabernacle all day – but try to time your visit to experience an organ recital (Monday to Saturday at noon, and Sundays at 2 pm) or a choir rehearsal (most Thursday evenings from 8 to 9:30 pm, and Sundays at 9:30 to 10 pm). Or, at various times throughout the day, you may catch an acoustic demonstration – proving you can literally hear a pin drop, given the Tabernacles acoustic clarity.
Family History Library

6) Family History Library

Genealogy is of paramount importance to the Mormon faith, and this resource dedicated to the research of family histories is remarkable in its size and scope. The four-story library contains over 2 million rolls of microfilmed records as well as maps, census information, books, and other documents to research one’s ancestry. Dedicated in 1985, the library located to the west of Temple Square is the largest of its kind in the world, occupying 142,000 square feet, with about 100 full-time professionals on staff and another 700 trained volunteers. Admission is free (to church members and non-members alike) to anyone interested in genealogy.
Assembly Hall

7) Assembly Hall

Located on the southwest corner of Temple Square, this gothic-style cathedral seems a bit out of place in Temple Square, but is too beautiful to pass up. Constructed between 1877 and 1882, Assembly Hall was made from granite quarried from Little Cottonwood Canyon but not used for the LDS Temple. A massive organ of nearly 3500 pipes graces the chapel, and the hall is used for a number of religious and musical events. A monument outside the hall commemorates an event in 1848, in which a flock of seagulls arrived to devour a swarm of crickets threatening the first harvests of the newly arrived Mormon settlers.
Salt Lake LDS Temple/Brigham Young Memorial

8) Salt Lake LDS Temple/Brigham Young Memorial

This striking bronze statue of Brigham Young sits just outside the LDS Temple, and was created in 1893 by the sculptor Cyrus Edwin Dallin. The location of the LDS Temple was chosen by Young in 1847, with construction beginning six years later. Built from granite, the Salt Lake Temple – still the largest LDS temple to date – took 40 years to complete construction. A masterpiece of architecture, tours of the interior are not offered (as the building is used for rites sacred to Mormons). However, the exterior detail – from the statue of the angel Moroni to the towers and battlements – make the temple a must for any travel photographer from a multitude of angles (including from several stories up in nearby buildings).
Image Courtesy of Manish Prabhune.
Joseph Smith Memorial Building

9) Joseph Smith Memorial Building

Built in 1911 and originally functioning as the Hotel Utah, this massive building with elegant interior now fulfills a number of functions in Temple Square, after a renovation in 1993. An impressive lobby, with huge marble pillars, statues, and an art glass ceiling makes a striking first impression. The building also houses three restaurants – the Nauvoo Café, the Roof, and the Garden – as well as a theater, a multitude of reception and conference rooms, and the Family Search Center (for genealogical research). The 10th floor of the building offers an observation level for taking fantastic photographs of the LDS Temple and other downtown buildings, as well as the surrounding Wasatch Mountains.
Image Courtesy of Sascha Brück~commonswiki.
Lion House

10) Lion House

Built by Brigham Young in 1856, this historic house sits less than a block to the east of the LDS Temple and next to Beehive House. Lion House was named for the statue of the lion, created by William Ward, over the front entrance. Brigham Young was a polygamist, and the house contains large public rooms on the ground level and 20 bedrooms upstairs to house his wives and children. Today, the house is decorated with vintage furniture and artifacts, as well as rooms used for reception areas. The Lion House Pantry on the lower level offers up a buffet-style comfort food cafeteria in a casual setting, specializing in delicious baked goods.
Beehive House

11) Beehive House

The historic home of Brigham Young and now a national historic landmark, the Beehive House was designed by Young’s architect brother-in-law and constructed in 1854. Young was a polygamist, and the large mansion accommodated his multiple wives and children as well as serving as the state’s executive mansion during Young’s service as governor of Utah between 1851 and 1858. The interior of the house is a history museum, adorned with period piece furniture and household items – and the beehive on the rooftop is an important symbol of industriousness in the Mormon faith. Free tours are available Monday through Saturday, from 9 am till 9 pm.
Eagle Gate

12) Eagle Gate

This monument spanning State Street was originally built in 1859 to serve as the entrance to Brigham Young’s property. Having been altered several times to accommodate a wider street and car traffic, the current incarnation was dedicated in 1963 by church president McKay and was designed by the architect George Cannon Young – a descendent of Brigham Young himself. Atop the 76-foot wide gate sits a 4,000-pound eagle perched on a beehive, with a 10-foot body and a 20-foot wingspan made of bronze – replacing the original carved wooden eagle, which is now on display at the Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum.
Brigham Young Historical Park

13) Brigham Young Historical Park

Just east of the LDS Church Office Building is a small, unassuming park that might be easy to miss. The beautiful green space honors Brigham Young – the church’s third leader (often called the “American Moses”) who led the newly-formed church west to base operations in Utah in 1847. Occupying land once owned by Brigham Young himself, the park features a vintage water wheel spinning amid City Creek, a large lawn for picnics, and statues and plaques paying tribute to Young. The park also hosts musical and theatrical performances, gardening talks, and other events. Most events run on summer evenings between June and August.

Walking Tours in Salt Lake City, Utah

Create Your Own Walk in Salt Lake City

Create Your Own Walk in Salt Lake City

Creating your own self-guided walk in Salt Lake City is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Pioneers Trail

Pioneers Trail

After extensive religious persecution in the Eastern and Midwestern United States, the Mormon Pioneers made their way westward across the plains and mountains to a spot where Brigham Young said God had designated they should stop and settle. Unlike other social groups (farmers, miners, merchants) who created other western cities, these settlers arrived in Salt Lake Valley as a centrally organized...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.9 Km or 1.2 Miles
Salt Lake City Downtown Walk

Salt Lake City Downtown Walk

Salt Lake City's downtown epitomizes the city's settlement and growth. Renowned for its cleanliness, visitors often praise its meticulously planned layout, reminiscent of a Cartesian graph centered around Temple Square, a sacred site for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).

In 1847, Brigham Young, leader of Mormon pioneer settlers, designated the site for...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 Km or 1.9 Miles
Historical Buildings Tour

Historical Buildings Tour

Salt Lake City’s downtown is a good place to view historical buildings and sites, each with its unique story and significance, that reflect the city’s Mormon heritage and more.

One such edifice is the Devereaux Mansion, a stunning example of Second Empire architecture that stands as a testament to the city's prosperous past. The Salt Lake Temple, an iconic symbol of the city and a...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.0 Km or 2.5 Miles