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Photos: Inside the Massive New Mormon Temple in Gilbert

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has opened its massive new Gilbert temple for public tours before it goes into operation.

If you'd rather not travel to Gilbert to check out the temple, the LDS church has released photos showing off the interior and exterior of the 85,000-square-foot structure, the largest temple constructed by the church in 17 years.

Check out the photo slideshow below:

At 195 feet, the behemoth is the tallest building in the East Valley.

Here's how the church has described the building:

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, five palm varieties, and 24 species of shrubs, ground covers 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.

The church doesn't usually allow non-LDS-ers to just hang out at the temples, so if you're not down with Joseph Smith, your only chance to get inside is during this open-house period. You can sign up for a tour on an LDS website.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.

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