A Google Doodle today is marking the 450th anniversary of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Russia. The famous Russian landmark, which features nine multi-colored onion-shaped domes and is located outside of the Kremlin in Moscow’s Red Square, replaces the “l” in Google’s famous logo.
Google operates in Russia, but unlike most of the world, Google has yet to crack the Russian market where Russian search engine Yandex dominates. Most recently, Yandex tried to further solidify its position as market leader by teaming with Rambler, and earlier this year Yandex’s IPO was the biggest for an Internet company since Google, so perhaps this might be a small way to try and win some friends in the Russian market.
This is the second appearance of the Cathedral in a Google logo. It was previously one of 17 images featured on Dec. 23, 2010 as part of Google’s “Happy Holidays” Doodle.
Russia today will open an exhibit dedicated to St. Basil, marking the end of a decade-long restoration that cost 390 million rubles ($14 million), according to the AP. The cathedral was built in 1561 by Czar Ivan the Terrible to celebrate his victory of Mongol rulers, but is best known as the burial site of St. Basil, a religions eccentric – or “holy fool” – who was one of Ivan’s biggest critics.
"This cathedral is a shrine and a symbol of Russia," Deputy Culture Minister Andrey Busygin told the AP. "It's a miracle it survived at all."
Supposedly, Napoleon Bonaparte ordered the building destroyed, but heavy rains put out the burning fuses in the 1800s. Later, the cathedral took heavy damage in the 1917 Bolshevik takeover of the Kremlin.
It was later converted into a museum to save it from destruction by early Communist leaders who destroyed thousands of religious buildings and saw it as an "obstacle" to Stalin’s military parades. The cathedral also suffered from weather damage and neglect for years.
The foundation of the cathedral has also been tested by tanks driven during Soviet military parades, the construction of underground infrastructure, the paving of Red Square with cobblestones, and even the vibrations from nearby outdoor rock concerts.
St. Basil’s Cathedral seems to have been designed based on the New Jerusalem of the Bible, as described in the Book of Revelation.