on June 19, 2011
A TOURIST ATTRACTION:According to the tourist bumff that is handed out Temple Square is the No 1 tourist attraction in Utah. Some may dispute this as there are some stunning places of natural beauty in Utah such as the Arches National Park but I would agree that in Salt Lake City it is the attraction. It was the reason I wanted to visit Salt Lake City as I had read so much about the history of the Mormons and their unique beliefs that I was intrigued to actually see the place where it all began in earnest.Everything in Temple Square is FREE to enter. Some buildings require that you have a guide while others you can wander around as you like. All around the square you see pairs of usually young very attractive well turned out girls who approach and offer to guide you or they just chat to you in a very friendly way before offering to answer any questions or if you would like a visit from someone when ypu get back home.SOUTH VISITOR’S CENTER:We were dropped by our taxi by the South Visitor’s Center which is a large modern building which is open seven days a week from 9am to 9pm and is entirely staffed by volunteers. The building is squeaky clean, very open and airy. The ‘restrooms’ were also squeaky clean and the no touch variety of toilet flush, soap, taps and driers!The first displays you come to are about the family and how important the family as a unit is to the Mormon religion. There were a number of TV screen with children being interviewed about their beliefs and while they were all remarkably articulate which was impressive i couldn’t help but be a bit disturbed by what they were saying .The Mormon Church has one of the most comprehensive family history resources in the world and there were a few computers that you could use to look up your own family history. Either we were being thick or the records didn’t cover UK on the searches we did but we failed to even find any record of ourselves and we knew all the details we needed to look that up! There was also a very interesting family tree display which had important Mormon family links but this appeared to include Winston Churchill which we found unlikely even though I know his mother was American I couldn’t see the links working downwards. Moving on we came to a large model showing the inside of The Temple. Only people of the Mormon faith are allowed inside The Temple but if the model is anything to judge by the interior is nothing short of magnificent. The furnishings and decor are luxurious and ornate in creams and whites and golds. Alongside the model of The Temple are two interactive screen displays which you can select a room from and then you get a picture, map of where it is in The Temple with a description of the furnishings and the use of the room. Now considering this was built in 1847 it is a fabulous construction and nothing was spared to make it a true place of wonder. It seemed amazing to me that these pioneers has walked dragging wagons for months to arrive here then managed to build something as huge and imposing as this within years of arriving in the middle of nowhere with very few possessions. Whatever you think of their beliefs you have to admire their resilience and talent.The rest of the visitor’s centre is devoted to displays of the pioneers arriving, how The Temple was constructed one large rock at a time being brought by bullock cart to the site from the quarry then cut with pretty basic tools. The Temple is not a crude rough hewn building, it is a very solid granite construction, not especially beautiful from outside but imposing and VERY large, it is certainly going to be there a long time.Other displays in this area show Brigham Young’s vision and then the architect’s designs, photos of The Temple in progress which is something else I found quite interesting that someone had had the foresight to bring a camera all that way in a hand or bullock cart.Displays of furniture and how this was made and also the sorts of tools they had to work with. They must have had some very talented people with them as hard work alone would not have created such a quality building. I was very impressed. I am not sure if I had walked thousands of miles dragging my worldy possessions for months on end that I would have been keen to spend my first months and years building a Temple, my first thoughts would have been for my own shelter which they also had to build in between working on The Temple.A welcoming and interesting building to visit in temple Square.
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