Temple Square is a ten acre
(40,000 m²) complex located in the center of Salt Lake City, Utah, owned by
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon or LDS
In recent years, the usage of the name has
gradually changed to include several other church facilities
immediately adjacent to Temple Square. Contained within
Temple Square proper are the Salt Lake
Temple, Salt Lake
Tabernacle, Salt Lake Assembly Hall, the Seagull Monument and two visitors' centers.
Layout of Temple Square, circa
In 1847, when Mormon pioneers
in the Salt Lake Valley
president Brigham Young
plot of the desert
ground and proclaimed,
"Here we will build a temple to our God." When the city was
surveyed, the block enclosing that location was designated for the
, and became known as
Temple Square. Temple Square is surrounded by a high, granite wall
that was built shortly after the block was designated for the
building of the temple.
The square also became the headquarters of the LDS Church.
buildings were built on the plot, including a tabernacle (prior to the one occupying
Temple Square today) and Endowment House, both of which were later torn down.
Salt Lake Tabernacle, home of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
, was built
in 1867 to accommodate the General Conferences
Church, with a seating capacity
6,000. Another church building called the Assembly Hall was later
built with a seating capacity of 2,000.
As the Church has grown, its headquarters has expanded into the
surrounding area. In 1917, an administration building was built
on the block east of the temple, to be followed in 1972 by the
twenty-eight story LDS Church Office Building, which was, for many years, the tallest building in
the state of Utah. The Hotel Utah, another building on this
block, was remodeled in 1995 as additional office space and a large
film theater and renamed the Joseph Smith
In 2000, the Church purchased the section
of Main Street between this block and Temple Square and connected
the two blocks with a plaza called the Main Street Plaza.
the Church completed a new, 21,000 seat Conference
Center on the block north of Temple Square.
Library and the Church
History Museum are located on the block west of Temple
Attracting 3 million to 5 million visitors a year, Temple Square is
the most popular tourist attraction in Utah. By comparison, Utah's
five National Parks
—Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches— had a combined total of 5.3 million visitors in
Square (and the surrounding blocks) has become a popular tourist
destination, with five million visitors annually, more than the
Canyon or Yellowstone National Park.
The grounds, which feature a number of gardens, often host concerts
and other events; during the Christmas
holiday season, hundreds of thousands of lights sparkle from trees
and shrubs around Temple Square. The lighting of Temple Square time
is a popular event, attended by tens of thousands .
The gates outside Temple Square are popular places for those
critical of the Church where critics, mainly former members and
activist evangelical ministers, often picket
and hand out tract
and literature critical of the LDS
Church. They are also well-known locations for street musicians to
perform, especially during the holiday season.
Salt Lake Temple
The Salt Lake Temple is the largest (of more than 120) and
best-known LDS temple. It is the sixth temple built by the church
overall, and the fourth operating temple built since the Mormon
exodus from Nauvoo, Illinois.
North and South Visitors Centers
Christus statue in North Visitors'
Today, Temple Square features two visitors' centers, called the
North Visitors' Center and the South Visitors' Center. The North Visitors'
Center was built first and features a replica of The
Christus, a statue of Jesus Christ by
Danish sculptor Bertel
The Christus is located in a domed room
with large windows, painted with clouds, stars, planets, and other
heavenly bodies. The visitors' centers and grounds are staffed by
sister missionaries and senior missionary couples exclusively; no
single male missionaries are called to serve on Temple Square. The
sister missionaries serving on Temple Square are called from North
America as well as around the world, speaking enough languages to
cater to the majority of visitors from around the world.
Old Bureau of Information building,
which served visitors from 1904 to 1978 (1909 photo).
The Assembly Hall at Temple Square at
Sister missionaries come from many different countries, and provide
tours and information in their home languages as well as English.
Beginning with the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City,
sisters have been wearing tags with their national flags along with
their missionary name tags.
Conference and assembly buildings
There are three large assembly buildings housed on Temple
Square.The smallest of the three is the Salt Lake Assembly Hall,
which seats approximately 2,000 and is located on the southwest
corner of Temple Square. The Assembly Hall is a Victorian Gothic
congregation hall, with a cruciform layout of the interior that is
complemented by Stars of David circumscribed high above each
entrance. These symbolize the gathering of the Twelve Tribes of
). Construction of the hall began on August 11
completed 1882. It is located just south of the Salt Lake
Tabernacle and across from the South Visitor Center near the South
Gate. Upon entering Temple Square from the South, the Assembly Hall
can be seen to the left (west). The Assembly Hall hosts occasional
free weekend music concerts and is filled as overflow for the
Church's twice-a-year General
The second meeting house is the Salt Lake Tabernacle, home of the
world-famous Mormon Tabernacle
and Orchestra at
. The Tabernacle was built between 1864 and 1867
and has an overall seating capacity of is 8,000, which includes the
choir area and gallery. In March, 2007 the Tabernacle was
rededicated after its extensive renovations and restorations were
completed. It was rededicated at the Saturday Afternoon Session of
the 177th Annual General Conference, in which the First Presidency,
Quorum of the Twelve and other General Authorities and the Mormon
Tabernacle Choir, broadcast the session from within the Tabernacle
rather than in the Conference Center. In addition to housing the
choir, the tabernacle is also used for other religious and cultural
largest and most recently built assembly building is the LDS Conference
With a capacity of over 21,000, it is used
primarily for the LDS Church's General Conference
as well as for
concerts and other cultural events. The Conference Center was
completed in 2000. Attached on the northwest corner of the
Conference Center is the Conference Center Theater
comparatively smaller 850-seat theater for dramatic presentations,
such as Savior of the World
well as concerts and other events.
Museums and libraries
Family History Library
Located on the block west of Temple Square, the Family History
Library is the largest genealogical library in the world and is
open to the general public at no charge. The library holds
genealogical records for over 110 countries, territories, and
possessions. Its collections include over 2.4 million rolls of
genealogical records; 742,000
; 310,000 books, serials
, and other formats; 4,500
; 700 electronic
Church History Museum
on the block west of Temple Square adjacent to the LDS Family
History Library, this edifice houses collections of Latter-day
Saint art and artifacts.
The Museum houses permanent
exhibits as well as playing host to many temporary exhibits
throughout the year.
Past exhibits have included displays and themes from individuals
such as artist Arnold Friberg
sculptures and work by Boyd K.
, as well as themed historical
displays depicting church events.
A panoramic view showing Temple Square
from the Conference Center, looking South.
- Quoted in The Salt Lake Temple. Gordon B. Hinckley,
Ensign, March 1993, 2.
- Information on Salt Lake Temple Background
- Assembly Hall on Temple Square, The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- Conference Center