Local Hidden Gem: The Sunol Water Temple

one of my favorite drives near where i live (east SF Bay Area) is Niles Canyon Road, which cuts through the eponymous canyon which perhaps is most famous for being the where several early films were made (including some Charlie Chaplin ones).

mapat the eastern end of the canyon is the Sunol Water Temple — a place i’ve always been intrigued by but never had the chance to visit because it’s only open 9 to 3 on weekdays that are not public holidays. i have today off, so i went for a quick drive. there’s not much to the Temple, but it’s a nice piece of Bay Area history, and perfect to start or end a visit to the canyon.


built in 1910, the Temple marks the confluence of three early water sources before continuing on to the population at large. after the modernization of the Bay Area’s water system in the middle of the last century the Temple’s water supply became less important and most of today continues to a nearby creek.

if the Temple looks Italianate, it is — architect Willis Polk was inspired by the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, Italy.


the interior of the dome has partially-completed murals — when i first saw pictures i thought the originals had worn away, but as it turns out, they sadly were never fully realized in the first place.



for more information on the site, including hours and directions, see here.


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