We visited the epicenter/headquarters of the Church of the Latter-Day Saints (LDS) in downtown Salt Lake City Sunday night. We toured the Visitor Center and Tabernacle, but we were not able to see Temple Square because it was under construction. Our friend Aria is a former “sister” tour guide in Temple Square and she was quite informative about all the little-known facts about the buildings. It would be the equivalent of visiting Vatican City or Mecca as a center of a world major religion. We also finally found some run-down, older parts of the city after being in the shiny new suburbs for most of our trip. We saw some homeless people and abandoned buildings that we didn’t think existed in SLC. The downtown is quite small, with the capital, basketball arena, church headquarters taking up most of the center of the city. I guess after living in larger cities, a metropolitan area of just over a million people would feel small.
The LDS Church is very organized and the Visitor’s Center is a really good introduction to the beliefs of the church. I learned that the LDS church believes Jesus visited the Americas and South Pacific before Columbus discovered the New World. They point to the legend of the “white god” as partial evidence that this is true. The painting above is famous in the LDS world depicting the scene. We also saw the portraits of church leadership. The top position is called “The Prophet” and he has 12 “apostles”. and two assistants to lead the church. They are all older men, retired from successful careers but faithful enough to devote their “golden years” to running the religion.
My favorite part was the home of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The acoustics were excellent with a curved roof. One of the sisters tore a piece of paper and dropped a pin to demonstrate how well sound travels in the hall. The choir is world famous and competitive to get into.
We ended the tour on the rooftop gardens of the center that gave us a good overview of the complex and SLC. As you can see below, the LDS administrative building is to the far left, the cranes mark the construction site of the Temple and to the far right is the tabernacle dome.