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Big Mormon Temple in Gilbert to Be Open for Public Tours

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An 85,000-square-foot Mormon temple being built in Gilbert will be open for public tours early next year.

Construction of the temple started nearly three years ago, and according to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it's the largest temple the church has built in 17 years.

Unless you drive with your eyes closed, you've undoubtedly seen this thing from Loop 202 and Pecos Road, if you've driven through the area in the past couple of years.

According to the church, the public will be able to take a tour of the church from January 18 to February 15, excluding Sundays. A note on one of the LDS website says people will be able to make reservations to tour the temple "in the coming weeks."

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The building is the tallest in the East Valley, at 195 feet high, with an

Angel Moroni

statue at the top.

Here's part of the church's explanation of the temple:

The highly detailed exterior will feature high quality pre-cast concrete and stone accentuated with fine rustications and beautifully crafted art glass windows. The floor plan includes a sub-basement for mechanical equipment; a basement for the baptistry; a first floor for the entry, dressing rooms and administrative offices; a second floor for the chapel and instruction rooms; and a third floor for marriage rooms and waiting rooms. The wrought-iron fenced grounds will include fountains, shaded plazas and lush landscaping featuring 10 kinds of trees, 5 palm varieties and 24 species of shrubs, groundcovers and vines with trellises, arbors and pergolas placed throughout the site. A meetinghouse was also approved for the site, which will likely be built within two to four years. The two structures will share a 654-car parking lot.

Temples are not constructed with large meeting rooms like a cathedral and are not designed to hold large numbers of people at one time. Rather, they are constructed for smaller groups -- of up to 100 people at a time -- that attend the temple throughout the day. Sometimes several groups may overlap one another at the temple (which is closed on Sundays and Mondays).

In keeping with our standards of temple building, the materials and workmanship will be of the highest quality, and the grounds will be created and maintained to bring a sense of peace and tranquility to those who enjoy the grounds and the surrounding community.

Although this temple seems absolutely gigantic, the LDS's largest temple, in Salt Lake City, is about 10 times the size, in square feet.

Click here to get all the details on the temple from the LDS church.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.

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