The centrepiece of Salt Lake City today is not unlike many cities around the world, where a church and a plaza are the centre of the community. Here however, it is not a Catholic heritage as we have seen through South America.
Salt Lake City is home to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The Mormons fled to this region to escape religious persecution and were the first successful European settlers in the region. Despite conflicts with the Shoshone, Palute, Goshute and Ute Native American tribes who inhabited the valley and the harsh living conditions, the ‘Great Salt Lake City’ was established in the 1840s.
The pioneers mapped out the beginning of the city into 10 acres blocks with streets wide enough to turn a bullock drawn wagon. This makes for very wide streets even today!
Temple Square as it is known, is a walled block enclosing the Tabernacle, Salt Lake Temple, Beehive House and two visitor centres and entrances on all 4 sides.
Our visit to the Tabernacle coincided with the daily organ recital. This gave us the chance to experience the famed acoustics of this 1867 hall and listen to the 11,000 pipe organ. For those who are wondering….Stewart couldn’t get enough of this! Anyway, visitors are welcomed at the entrance to the Tabernacle by members of the church who issue brochures explaining the recital. The Tabernacle is famed, as we said, for its acoustics and the daily organ recital for tourists begins with ‘a pin drop’ at the front of the hall to demonstrate the amazing properties of this building. Yep, we heard it from the back.
Salt Lake Temple itself is only for members of the church. Temple Square is very beautiful and visitors are very welcome and can take guided tours if they wish, or wander through the gardens and visit the adjacent museums.
Nestled between snowcapped mountains and the Great Salt Lake, this is an attractive city.
The strong presence of the church throughout Utah is obvious in the very distinctive architecture of the large community churches, which are visible in every community large and small.
Another highlight of our short visit was the couple of hours we spent in the Landcruiser Heritage Museum. Believed to be the only one of its kind, the collection of Toyota Landcruisers is impressive and we loved wandering around reminiscing about our own previous Landcruisers. The collection includes all models of Landscruisers sourced from all over the world, in varying conditions from brand new to very, very well used! The staff are extremely knowledgeable and friendly and anyone travelling through with a Landcruiser – particularly a TroopCarrier – will be warmly welcomed, as we were.
Our time in Salt Lake City was short. There is more to see and do, but for us it was time to head north again.