Apr 30 - Temple Square in Salt Lake City

"Well, at noon there's an organ recital in the Tabernacle... you know... the Tabernacle... the home of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir"

"Oh, that Tabernacle"

"Yes, it's the 12th largest pipe organ in the world... almost 12,000 individual pipes. They like to show off the organ's range and power at these recitals... it's really quite impressive... and you really should go."

So, on the advice of the knowledgeable one at the visitor center, when we finished our State Capitol exploration we slid down the hill a few blocks, and found a street parking spot on South Temple Street. It's easy to know that you've homed in on Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City as the street that runs along the south side of the Square is named "South Temple"... the street that runs along the north side is "North Temple"... and the street that runs along the west side is (all together now...) "West Temple".  Unfortunately, the street running on the east side of the Square is "State Street"... not sure why the pattern didn't hold.

This is the home of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also referred to as the Mormon or LDS Church. The Square's 35 acres contain the impressive Salt Lake City Temple, the Tabernacle, a huge Conference Center, a 26 floor church office building, and other visitor centers, museums, libraries, and administration buildings. The grounds are neat as a pin, clean, and, on this spring day, adorned with blooming flowers bursting from every unpaved chunk of dirt you could find. The people we talked to were all cheerful, friendly, and helpful.

We did make the organ recital with a few minutes to spare. Ushered into the Tabernacle and seated, the first thing the organist did was demonstrate the acoustics of the purpose-built domed shaped building. Remember, this is the home of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and great efforts were made to get the sound just right. An elongated dome of 150 feet by 250 feet, it seats 7,000 people and is considered to be nearly acoustically perfect... a surprising feat since the building was constructed in the 1860s (that's right... the 1860s). We were sitting toward the middle-back of the building, furthest away from the front (the choir and organ end), and could clearly hear pins dropping into a small wooden box from about 200 feet away.


The organist then fired up the pipe organ, the 12th largest instrument of it's kind in the world, with 11,623 pipes. Being a recital whose purpose it was to demonstrate the capabilities of this organ... and being in an acoustically perfect building... well, this was an experience of rare occurrence. I wish I could describe it... but I can't. You just have to experience it for yourself. The recital lasted a bit over 30 minutes and was free.

a panorama composit photo... click to enlarge. Over 21,000 seats.

We then wandered around the grounds for a while before finding our way over to the new Mormon Conference Center. Believed to be the largest theater-style auditorium ever built, anywhere... it seats over 21,000 people in comfortable cushioned theater-style seating. Built between 1997 and 2000, it contains more than 1.4 million square feet of space. From outside, you'd never guess what's inside. With a tour guide, we walked on the roof-top garden... a pleasant park-like space with trees and plants and grass. The building is wedged into a 10 acre hillside and buried deep into the ground. Walking into the auditorium almost takes your breath away. Another "must see" if you get to this corner of the world.

Feeling the gnawing's of hunger we found a pleasant cafe on the grounds for lunch, and then spent some time in the FamilySearch Center (Dar's genealogical interest) and wandered around the grounds for a while longer before heading out for the next stop of the day.

click here to see more photos from our visit to Temple Square

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