By Ela VasilescuWriter

The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore is the main church of Florence, Italy. Il Duomo di Firenze, as it is ordinarily called, is a marvel.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore also known as Il Duomo di Firenze is one of the main touristic attractions in Florence. Its beauty and uniqueness seem like a never ending story, an endless row of details just waiting to be discovered by curious eyes. The Florentines have decided to lay the cornerstone of the Cathedral on September 8, 1296, the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, building this architectural mastodon in her honor. The construction was first designed in a Gothic style by Arnolfo di Cambio and completed structurally in 1436 by Filippo Brunelleschi who designed the dome. The basilica is one of Italy’s largest churches, and up until the development of new structural materials in the modern era, the dome was the largest in the world. It still remains the largest brick dome ever constructed. From the amazingly decorated façade to the frescoes of the cupola and monuments inside, Il Duomo is one of Florence’s wonders, a place that will keep calling tourists back, hypnotizing their gaze, their feelings, their thoughts. Each year on September 8, to celebrate the birth of Virgin Mary, the terrace around the base of the Cathedral’s cupola is open to visitors who are free to walk around and get a 360° view of Florence’s rooftops and surrounding hills. The terrace is open from 10 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. and admission is free. Another amazing thing to do on this date is a chance to visit the workshop of the Opera del Duomo, usually closed to the public, where the art work of the cathedral, bell tower and baptistery is preserved. The entrance to the Duomo complex is free for all the residents of Florence. Happy Birthday Duomo!