In 1847 a group of Mormons led by Brigham Young escaped religious persecution in the east and founded Salt Lake City. Originally a part of Mexico, it became an official part of the United States in 1850. Salt Lake City has always been the headquarters of the Church of the Latter Day Saints and its presence can be felt throughout the entire city to this day. The monumental temple which can be seen from most parts of the city was built between 1853 and 1893. Today, temple square is a large complex with beautiful landscaping and architecture. It is one of the most popular attractions in all of Utah.
In addition to the temple itself, there are a number of other buildings in the square including the world famous Tabernacle. The square contains several restaurants and gift shops. It also contains a handful of museums that teach visitors about the history of the church. During my visit, I was unfortunately not able to see the tabernacle choir performing, but I was able to view the main stage and it was awe inspiring. I spent a few hours exploring the area and had some delicious pot pie at a restaurant inside the Joseph Smith memorial building.
It is easy to poke fun of Mormons because their particular origin story appears to be completely fabricated. Ironically the creators of South Park tear down the entire religion with "All about Mormons" and simultaneously spread a message of religious tolerance at the end of that episode. Gary, the mormon boy, confronts Stan after he called their whole religion stupid:
Maybe we Mormons do believe in crazy stories that make absolutely no sense. Maybe Joseph Smith did make it all up. But I have a great life, and a great family and I have the Book of Mormon to thank for that. The truth is, I don't care if Joseph Smith made it all up because what the church teaches now if loving your family, being nice, and helping people.
The people that I encountered were kind, friendly, well dressed, and believe in something. Overall I found the square to be a very peaceful and beautiful place.