Temple Square in Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City Utah

Temple Square is located in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City Utah.
Temple Square is located in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City Utah.

Salt Lake City is a favorite vacation destination

One of the most spectacular places to visit when it comes to Utah is the state capital, Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City is filled with loads of historic, cultural, educational, and shopping adventures. The surrounding area provides sporting activities such as, snowboarding, and skiing in the winter, and hiking and climbing in the summer. Salt Lake City Utah is a great place for a vacation destination.

Welcome to Salt Lake City

Temple Square attractions to see in Salt Lake City.

When you go to Salt Lake City, no matter what your religious views are, it is a must that you visit the sights at Temple Square. Probably the most popular tourist spot in Utah, the three city blocks in downtown Salt Lake City that make up Temple Square have almost 20 different attractions to choose from.

Christmas in Salt Lake City is also a great time to visit Temple Square.  The grounds are decorated with thousands of Christmas lights and Nativities are displayed from all over the world.

Map of Temple Square

Compliments of Utah.com
Compliments of Utah.com

Things to see at Temple Square

  • The Salt Lake Temple
  • The Temple Square Visitors Centers
  • The Salt Lake Tabernacle
  • The Assembly Hall
  • The Family History Library
  • The Museum of Church History and Art
  • The LDS Conference Center
  • The LDS Church Office Building
  • The Bee Hive House
  • The Lion House
  • The Joseph Smith Memorial Building

Salt Lake LDS Temple

The center of Temple Square is the Salt Lake Temple.
The center of Temple Square is the Salt Lake Temple.

The Salt Lake LDS Temple

The Salt Lake Temple

The Salt Lake Temple is recognized the world over as the symbol for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This magnificent building took over 40 years to build by pioneer settlers who came to the valley in July of 1847. After the first few years of struggle to survive in this unsettled territory passed, the faithful members of the Mormon Church started to dig the foundation and construct this grand edifice.  They began in 1853, and completed it in 1893. 

Made from the granite quarried from the Little Cottonwood Canyon, which is 20 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, the Salt Lake Temple is the largest of the LDS Temples. The six distinctive spires add to the Gothic design of the Temple itself.  Positioned on the east central spire is a large gold statue of the Angel Moroni. 

Although entrance inside the Salt Lake Temple is reserved for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, all visitors are welcome to tour the grounds and see the stunning workmanship of the outside of the building and the surrounding grounds.

The Angel Moroni

On top of the tower of the Salt Lake Temple can be seen the Angel Moroni.  Picture taken by Aaron Baker Photography
On top of the tower of the Salt Lake Temple can be seen the Angel Moroni. Picture taken by Aaron Baker Photography

Sunstone on the Salt Lake Temple

Representing the highest degree of glory the Sunstones are seen of the Salt Lake Temple
Representing the highest degree of glory the Sunstones are seen of the Salt Lake Temple

The Moonstones

The Moonstones are seen in different phases, full, new, and waning.
The Moonstones are seen in different phases, full, new, and waning.

The Starstones

Notice how some are pointing down and some are pointing up.
Notice how some are pointing down and some are pointing up.

The Handclasp

Handclasp seen on the towers of the Salt Lake Temple.
Handclasp seen on the towers of the Salt Lake Temple.

The All-Seeing-Eye

Seen on the east and west sides of the Salt Lake Temple.
Seen on the east and west sides of the Salt Lake Temple.

Things to look for on the outside of the Salt Lake Temple

Just because access to the inside is limited, is no reason not to visit the Salt Lake Temple.  There is a ton of Temple Symbolism to look for on the outside of the building too. 

Here are some things to look for :

  • The Angel Moroni- The angel Moroni represents the messenger that brought the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ by way of The Book of Mormon to the Prophet Joseph Smith. He heralds the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
  • The Towers- The six towers that rise from the building represent the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The three towers on the east representing the First Presidency of the Church and the higher priesthood, also referred to as the Melchizedek Priesthood with twelve pinnacles rising out of the them representing the Twelve Apostles of the Church.  On the west side the three towers represent the leadership of the Aaronic Priesthood, or lesser priesthood, which is the Presiding Bishopric.  The twelve pinnacles on this side represent the High Council.
  • The Battlements- The battlements that surround the Temple itself offer a barrier of protection from the influences of the world. They symbolize a separation of worldly ideas from those of holy ordinances that take place inside the walls of the Temple.
  • The Earthstones- Located at the base of each buttress are the carvings of the earthstones. These symbolize the earth as the “footstool of God”. 
  • The Moonstones- The Moonstones are located directly above the earthstones.  The moon is seen in various phases depending on its position around the Temple. The changing moon represents the stages of human progression, or the journey from darkness into light.
  • The Sunstones- Above the moonstones are the beautiful sunstones depicting the glory of the sun, or the highest degree of glory.
  • The Cloudstones- On the east center tower, above the sunstones, are two clouds with descending rays of light.  This is symbolic of the Old Testament reference to the temples in ancient Israel as they were filled with the “cloud of the Lord”.
  • The Starstones- There are two different types of starstones on the Salt Lake Temple.  The six pointed stars represent the stars in the heavens, while the upside down five pointed stars represent the morning stars, and are compared to the “sons of God” which are spoken of in the scriptures. 
  • The Big Dipper- On the west center tower you will find the carving of the Big Dipper.  This constellation is used to locate the North Star, which was a star used by travelers for years helping them to keep on their true course. 
  • The Handclasp- On the center towers can be seen the carving of the pair of right hands clasped in the “right hand of fellowship”.  This represents the act of covenant making, which is the very essence of temple worship for the Latter-day Saints.
  • The All-Seeing-Eye- Finally the all-seeing-eye can be seen atop each of the center towers representing God’s ability to see all things. 

Temple Square Visitors Centers

The Christus in the North Visitors Center

Salt Lake Temple Square Visitors Center Christus
Salt Lake Temple Square Visitors Center Christus

North Visitors Center

Open to the public daily, the North Visitors Center at Temple Square
Open to the public daily, the North Visitors Center at Temple Square

Temple Square Visitors Centers

On Temple Square there are two visitors centers that not only give a history and facts about the Temple, but also give a brief overview of the beliefs of the Mormons.

The highlight of the South Visitors Center, which is located just across the courtyard on the south end of Temple Square, is the presentation of the history of the actual building of the Salt Lake Temple. Beautiful exhibits depict the story of the struggles of the early pioneers as they sacrificed to build the Temple, the dedication of the Temple, and the architectural plans which were designed by Truman Angell. There is an area which also explains the views the Mormons have on the importance of the family unit, and provides instructions on how to strengthen families.

The North Visitors Center is the larger of the two and is located just north of the Tabernacle. This visitors center has two floors. On the upper level is a 14 square foot replica of Jerusalem during the time period of the New Testament. It is an interactive display with over 4,000 miniature structures. Also on this floor are many murals that are painted depicting the life of Jesus Christ.

On the second floor of the visitors center are two theaters where the historical drama, Legacy, can been seen. This movie depicts the struggles that the early pioneers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had as they faced persecutions and hardships while they sought to worship as they believed. There are also additional presentations available that teach about the story of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and share scriptural stories from both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. This visitors center is a good place to get an understanding of core beliefs the Mormons have.

Perhaps the most spectacular thing about the North Visitors Center however, is the 11 foot statue of Jesus Christ that is visible as you enter the center. “The Christus” is an exact replica of the one made by the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen.

The MormonTabernacle

Mormon Tabernacle Organ in the Tabernacle

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir

The Salt Lake Tabernacle

Another important stop in your visit to Temple Square is the Salt Lake Tabernacle.  This building is famous for its egg like shape and its remarkable acoustics.  Conceptualized by Brigham Young, the Tabernacle took 12 years to build, being finished in 1875.  Microphones or other amplifying devices were not available during that time period, so Brigham Young tried to make the building resemble the roof of a mouth, wherein sound is amplified.  The domed roof was made by employing bridge building techniques. The self-supporting roof was created by using steam to bend the massive beams for the construction.  When a pin is dropped on the floor close to the podium, you can hear the sound throughout the whole building.  This is actually demonstrated during the tours that are given daily by LDS Missionaries.

Another incredible feature that is seen at the Tabernacle is the Tabernacle Pipe Organ.  With 11,623 pipes it is considered one of the world’s largest pipe organs. Because of the great acoustics and the beautiful pipe organ, the Tabernacle is the perfect place for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to call home.  Besides the free daily tours that are given of the Tabernacle, the public is welcome to attend choir rehearsals on Thursday evenings, and a program called “Music and the Spoken Word”, which is a broadcast that features the Mormon Tabernacle Choir,  on Sundays at 9:30am., absolutely free.

The Salt Lake Tabernacle

Courtesy of Getty Images
Courtesy of Getty Images

Temple Square Assembly Hall

The Assembly Hall

The Gothic styled Assembly Hall is also part of Temple Square. Started in 1877, and completed in 1880, the Assembly Hall is adorned with over 40 stain glass windows.  The building material used was the granite that was discarded from the construction of the Salt Lake Temple.  The Assembly Hall is used today for the Temple Square Concert Series, which is presented every Friday and Saturday evening. This series features concerts given by local and international artists.  There are no tickets required, and the concerts are free to anyone eight years of age or older.

The Salt Lake Assembly Hall

Adorned with the Star of David reminiscent of the Jubilee celebration.
Adorned with the Star of David reminiscent of the Jubilee celebration.

The Family History Library

The Family History Library

Across the street from the Assembly Hall is the LDS Family History Library. This five story building houses the largest collection of genealogical records in the world. With genealogy becoming the number one hobby in America, The Family History Library is easily one of the most visited sights in Salt Lake City.

The Family History Library is open to the public and is free of charge. There are more than 230 full-time professionals on staff, and about 200 well trained volunteers ready to help anyone who visits, with their genealogical research.

The Family History Library

People are waiting to help you find your ancestors at the Family History Library.
People are waiting to help you find your ancestors at the Family History Library.

Things to help you in your genealogical research available at the Family History Library

  • Over 2.2 Million rolls of microfilmed genealogical records
  • 742, 000 microfiche
  • 300,000 books, serials, and other formats
  • 4,500 periodicals
  • 84 patron computers
  • 600 microfilm readers
  • 75 microfiche readers
  • 31 microfilm and microfiche copiers
  • 10 book copiers
  • 365 seats at tables, plus additional standing workspace
  • regular orientation classes
  • specialized research classes

Come prepared to spend the entire day using the resources and getting help from the trained staff, absolutely free of charge.

The LDS Museum of Church History and Art

Entrance to the Museum of Chruch History and Art in Salt Lake City

Free to the public, this museum documents the historic journey of the Mormon pioneers.
Free to the public, this museum documents the historic journey of the Mormon pioneers.

Mormon Handcart at the Museum of Church History and Art

Used as a less expensive mode of travel, many European immigrants came to the Salt Lake Valley by handcarts.
Used as a less expensive mode of travel, many European immigrants came to the Salt Lake Valley by handcarts.

The Museum of Church History and Art

When visiting Temple Square, come prepared to spend some time at the Museum of Church History and Art, with over 63,500 square feet of museum to explore. Right next door to the Family History Library, the Museum of Church History and Art is open Monday through Friday, 9:00a.m. to 9:00p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 10:00a.m. to 7:00p.m., and the admission is free.

After Brigham Young arrived in the Salt Lake Valley he asked the Mormon pioneers to bring “all kinds of mathematical and philosophical instruments, together with all rare specimens of natural curiosities and works of art, . . . from which, the rising generation can receive instruction; and . . . we will soon have the best, the most useful and attractive museum.” This was the beginning of the collection of historical memorabilia documenting the fascinating journey that led the Mormons from upstate New York, to finally settle in Salt Lake City Utah.

Today interactive exhibits enhance your experience as you travel through time experiencing firsthand what the pioneers might have faced. Among the displays are a covered wagon, a log home, and even a ship’s bunk, making history come alive.

Other things of interest to look for might include:

  • An 1830 edition of The Book of Mormon
  • Brigham Young's sunglasses
  • Joseph Smith's flintlock pistol, sword, scabbard and epaulettes
  • A 45 star flag
  • The death masks of Joseph and Hyrum Smith


Famous artists like Minerva Teichert are on display.

The Museum of Church History and Art hosts different traveling exhibits along with the in-house art collection.
The Museum of Church History and Art hosts different traveling exhibits along with the in-house art collection.

Art Exhibits are part of the museum too.

Besides the historical artifacts that can be seen in the Museum of Church History and Art, there is an extensive art collection and featured art exhibits which deal with religious topics.  Many different media styles are exhibited including oil, watercolor, sculpture, stained glass, photography, and fabric.  Artists are displayed representing over 30 countries of the world making the exhibits multicultural in nature.

On the third floor of the museum are kid friendly interactive displays and activities including puppet shows, films, and costumed actors.  There is also a small gift shop located on the first floor where visitors can purchase hard to find books, post cards, music, videos, and other unique gifts.

The LDS Conference Center

Located just north of the Salt Lake Temple is the LDS Conference Center.
Located just north of the Salt Lake Temple is the LDS Conference Center.

The inside of the LDS Conference Center

The newest addition to Temple Square.
The newest addition to Temple Square.

The LDS Conference Center

The Conference Center

Recognizing the need for a larger building to be used as a meeting center, because of the steady growth of the membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Gordon B. Hinckley commissioned the building of the LDS Conference Center. The building is built from granite out of the same quarry which provided the granite for the Salt Lake Temple. The architectural structure of the building is amazing.

Inside the Conference Center itself there are no visible support beams giving each seat an unobstructed view. The auditorium contains 21,000 seats. It also houses a 7,667 pipe organ plus a 900 seat proscenium-style theater. Also inside the Conference Center is an extensive collection of original art pieces which are on display.

On the roof is four acres of landscaped planter boxes filled with the natural flora typical of the area.

The Conference Center is open daily for free guided tours between the hours of 9:00a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and Garden tours of the roof are only available Monday through Friday at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. or Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. The tours meet inside Door 15.

The Conference Center is used twice a year as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hosts its Annual and Semi-Annual General Conference in April and October. Here members of the Church receive teaching and spiritual encouragement from their church leaders. Other cultural and artistic shows of all kinds also appear at the Conference Center. From November 23, 2010 through January 1, 2011, the musical production , Savior of the World, which is based on scriptural accounts of the birth and Resurrection of Jesus Christ will return for its 14th season.

Tallest Building in Salt Lake City

The LDS Church Office Building towers over the entire city.
The LDS Church Office Building towers over the entire city.

LDS Church Office Building

The Beautiful Gardens Surrounding The LDS Church Office Building

Replanted every six months the gardens are always a spectacular sight.
Replanted every six months the gardens are always a spectacular sight.

The LDS Church Office Building

Completed in 1972, the LDS Church Office Building is the tallest building in Salt Lake City, measuring 28 stories high. It is here that the administrative support staff is centrally located for the lay ministry of the Church which is seen throughout the world.  It is literally the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Known as the “COB”, the building was designed by George Cannon Young and cost $31 million to build.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has become a corporation of sizable interest.  Everything from the publication of the Church magazines, organization of the massive missionary effort, production of church films, the construction of Church buildings and Temples, to managing the resources for humanitarian needs happens in the Church Office Building.

Two specific areas of interest to the public in the Church Office Building are, the lobby, and the observation deck. 

The lobby has a large mural depicting Jesus Christ commissioning the Apostles of the New Testament to preach the gospel message throughout the world.  Also in the lobby is a large statue picturing a pioneer family, a husband and wife burying an infant child, with the inscription, "That the struggles, sacrifices and the sufferings of the faithful pioneers and the cause they represented shall never be forgotten", beneath. 

The observation deck is on the 26th floor and is open to the public Monday through Friday 9:00a.m. to 4:30p.m. and is free of charge.  From this deck the beautiful Wasatch Mountains, the overview of the Salt Lake Temple with its surrounding Temple Square, and the majestic Salt Lake City Capital building, can be seen.  

The gardens that surround the LDS Church Office Building are a sight to see by themselves.  They are traditionally replanted every six months with unique and exotic plants.  Take a tour of the garden, meeting at the lobby, every Monday through Friday at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., and Tuesday and Wednesday, 7:00 p.m. Sunday tours meet at 10:15 a.m. at the east gate of Temple Square. All of the tours are free of charge.

The Bee Hive House

Brigham Young's house built in 1854.
Brigham Young's house built in 1854.

The Bee Hive House

The Bee Hive House

One of my favorite places at Temple Square to visit is the darling Bee Hive House.  Perhaps it is because I am a collector of Bee Hives, and there are a lot of them at the Bee Hive House, or maybe because I love that the Bee Hive represents “industry and harmony”, but nevertheless I always have to visit the Bee Hive House when I am in Utah.  The Bee Hive House was the primary residence of Brigham Young during his tenure as president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and governor of the Utah Territory before it became a state.  On top of the house you can see a large bee hive which stood for the State of Deseret, a term defining early Utah. 

Only two of Brigham Young’s wives lived there with their families, Mary Ann Angell Young, and Lucy Decker Young.  They were in charge of maintaining a place where Brigham Young could entertain the distinguished guests that would visit the City of Salt Lake.  The Bee Hive House is a museum that preserves the way the Young family lived back in 1855.   Included in the house are a play room, a washroom, a kitchen, a family store, a bedroom, and a gathering room.  All of these areas can be seen on a free tour that take place Monday-Saturday 9:00a.m. to 9:00p.m., beginning every 10 minutes.

The Lion House

The Lion House

Directly next door to the Bee Hive House is The Lion House.  The Lion House is another elegant mansion that belonged to Brigham Young also.  It was in the Lion House that several of Brigham Young’s polygamist wives and their families lived.  Brigham Young was known as “the Lion of the Lord” which was his nickname.  The Lion House, built by Brigham Young has a large reclining lion statue over the front entrance of the house giving the house its name.

Today The Lion House is a social center, using its large rooms for banquets and receptions.  The best part of The Lion House is The Lion House Pantry which is located on the street level, and is a restaurant open to the public.  Serving home style cooking, The Lion House Pantry is famous for their homemade rolls, breads, pies, and desserts made fresh every day at The Lion House Bakery.  It is open Monday- Saturday 11:00a.m. to 8:00p.m.  Make sure you grab a meal at The Lion House when you visit Temple Square!

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building

One of the most luxurious reception and  business centers in the West.
One of the most luxurious reception and business centers in the West.

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building

Rounding out the tour of Temple Square is The Joseph Smith Memorial Building.  Formerly named the Hotel Utah, this building was built in 1911 as was used as a world class hotel for the distinguished guests and visitors that came to the valley from all over the world.  Today, it no longer functions as a hotel but instead houses three restaurants, a genealogy research center, a theater, a chapel for church worship, and several reception rooms.  A large statue of Joseph Smith can be seen in the center of the lobby, welcoming all who come to the building. 

Guests are welcome to take a tour of the building which are offered Monday-Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. for no charge.  Also, a free movie is offered in the Legacy Theater, which is currently showing Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration.  Tickets are needed for the show, but can be obtained on-line.

Grab a meal, see a show, and experience the splendor of a world class hotel, all at The Joseph Smith Memorial Building.

Joseph Smith Memorial Building

Visit Utah's Temple Square in Salt Lake City

I hope that this introduction to the fabulous Temple Square in Salt Lake City Utah, has enticed you to come and visit.  If distance prohibits, you can always take the virtual tour by viewing the videos included in this Hub.  No matter your religious affiliation, Temple Square is an adventure for anyone who loves history and beauty.  From the architecture, to the artwork, to the gardens to the restaurants, Temple Square has something to satisfy everyone.

Come and Visit Temple Square

show route and directions
A markerThe Joseph Smith Memorial Building -
15 E South Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150, USA
[get directions]

(801) 539-3100

B markerLDS Church Office Building -
50 E North Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150, USA
[get directions]

C markerMuseum of Church History and Art -
45 NW Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150, USA
[get directions]

(801) 240-2299

D markerThe Lion House Pantry -
63 E South Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150, USA
[get directions]

(801) 363-5466

E markerTemple Square -
50 NW Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150, USA
[get directions]

Salt Lake Temple, Salt Lake Tabernacle, Assembly Hall, Temple Square Visitors Centers

F markerFamily History Library -
35 NW Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150, USA
[get directions]

801-240-2584 or 800-346-6044

Comments 6 comments

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Very interesting about a religion and county I don't hear a lot.


elayne001 profile image

elayne001 6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

You did a great job on this hub. Very thorough and interesting.


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

I love your notes on the cool details to be seen on the outside of the Salt Lake Temple! Gosh- I really need to visit Utah and Salt Lake City specifically. So many things to see! Great hub indeed- thorough, interesting, and full of helpful images!


In The Doghouse profile image

In The Doghouse 6 years ago from California Author

@Hello, hello- Salt Lake City is a beautiful city, and Temple Square is part of what makes it so beautiful. Thank you for your kind words.

@elayne001- Thanks a ton. I hope that I was able to make Temple Square come alive through this information. It is one of my favorite places.


In The Doghouse profile image

In The Doghouse 6 years ago from California Author

@SimoneSmith- Utah is a wonderful place to vacation. When you do visit, make sure Temple Square is one of the sights on your list to see.


gaurang 5 years ago

nice information about salt lake city.

in this hub we can see the useful info about salt lake city and nice video.

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