GILBERT, Ariz. -- Arizona's newest Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will open for public tours Saturday.
Construction began on the 85,000-square-foot temple in November 2010, and it is now the tallest building in Gilbert.
"To members of the church, it's the most sacred building on the face of the Earth," said Elder Todd Hansen.
On Wednesday, interfaith leaders were among the first people invited to tour the temple, which is one of four in the state. The others are located in Mesa, Snowflake and the Gila Valley. A fourth temple is being built in Phoenix.
Those who have been inside the new temple have without exception admired its exquisite architecture and artwork, which Hansen said encourages reflection and contemplation.
The temple was also designed with a consistent agave theme.
"While there's no religious significance to the agave, it is a reflection of the fact that we live in the desert and we wanted to showcase that," Hansen said.
The top of the temple boasts a 13-foot-tall gold statue, which Hansen said symbolizes the Book of Mormon and the teachings of ancient prophets.
He said the community support has been overwhelming. People of all faiths have expressed interest in touring the temple.
"We hope that they feel the sacredness of the place; that they come away with a greater appreciation of the reverence that we have for our temples," he said.
Public tours begin Saturday and will continue through Feb. 15.
To sign up for a tour, visit www.gilbertmormontemple.org or call 1-855-537-2000.