Sitka Historic Park or Site

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Historic Park or Site

Difficulty: Easy

You won’t find any old build­ings here, but there are great inter­pre­tive signs and numer­ous hik­ing trails at this state park. And it’s an impor­tant place — the site of the first Russ­ian set­tle­ment on Bara­nof Island.

After four years of wor­ship­ing in the Pres­by­ter­ian Chapel, Epis­co­palians final­ly had their own church in 1899, with the con­struc­tion of St. Peters-by-the-Sea. Com­plete with stained glass win­dows, mod­i­fied fly­ing but­tress­es, and wood­en pews, this small chapel is open to the pub­lic 247. The church and the adja­cent See House (1905) are both on the Nation­al Reg­is­ter of His­tor­i­cal Places, and are large­ly the work of Bish­op Peter Trim­ble Rowe.…  ...more

Over­grown and unmarked, this 200-year-old Russ­ian ceme­tery is still used for Russ­ian Ortho­dox parish­ioners of St. Michael’s. You’ll find stone and wood head­stones, some of which are made from the bal­lasts of old Russ­ian ships.

Difficulty: Easy

Once the admin­is­tra­tive head­quar­ters for an empire stretch­ing from Asia to Cal­i­for­nia and Hawaii, Cas­tle Hill today is lit­tle more than a grassy hill with a few inter­pre­tive signs, a mod­est stonewall, sev­er­al old can­nons, and a few flag­poles. But when you vis­it the top of this hill, you’re stand­ing on rich his­toric grounds.

Start at this land­mark, in the cen­ter of town, to grasp the rich­ness and depth of Sitka’s his­to­ry as the cap­i­tal of Russ­ian Amer­i­ca. The archi­tec­ture and trea­sured icons of this land­mark high­light Sitka’s long his­to­ry as a Euro­pean set­tle­ment decades before the Amer­i­can Revolution.

This stout struc­ture is a re-cre­ation of the guard tow­er that once stood here, part of the fortress enclos­ing the Rus­sians dur­ing their time in Sit­ka, from 1804 to 1867. Fear­ful of the wilder­ness around them, and of Tlin­git Natives, the Rus­sians’ enclosed fort was open to out­siders only in the daytime.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile

Arrange a water taxi ride to this man made arch­i­pel­ago extend­ing into Sit­ka Sound, a rel­ic of decay­ing for­ti­fi­ca­tions built to defend Alas­ka from for­eign inva­sion dur­ing World War II. Dur­ing World War II, Sit­ka was the hub of mil­i­tary activ­i­ty in South­east Alas­ka, with a U.S. Naval Air Sta­tion and oth­er installations.

After Finnish labor­ers com­plet­ed St. Michael’s Russ­ian Ortho­dox Cathe­dral, they asked Russ­ian author­i­ties if they could build a Luther­an church for them­selves. The Rus­sians allowed it, but only if the build­ing didn’t look like a church. That build­ing was torn down in 1888, but you can still see what it looked like: the cur­rent Luther­an church (which looks like a church) has a mod­el and pho­to of the orig­i­nal. The Luther­an Church is right across…  ...more

One of only a few struc­tures remain­ing from the orig­i­nal Russ­ian set­tle­ment, the endurance of the Russ­ian Bishop’s House reflects the ded­i­ca­tion brought to the job by the mis­sion­ary Bish­op Inno­cent Veni­aminov, its first occu­pant. Its chapel includes sev­er­al icons Inno­cent import­ed from Russia.

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