We were able to spend some quality time in Sitka during our trip to Alaska last month. One of the places we visited was St. Michael the Archangel Cathedral. Because of its striking architecture gracing the downtown area, it is an admired landmark.
The Russian influence is unmistakable when you gaze upward toward the heavens. The patina of the weathered copper roofs is a feast for the eyes!
The original building was built between 1844 and 1848. Finnish carpenters were hired to construct it with spruce logs and ceilings. It burnt to the ground in 1966, and the current Cathedral is a reconstruction. During the fire, Sitka citizens formed a human chain in an effort to save the furnishings. Over 95% of the original icons, pieces of Russian Orthodox art, and religious objects were salvaged and now on display in the rebuilt structure.
From 1840 until 1872, Sitka was the See of the Russian Orthodox Diocese, which governed all of North America. After that time, it has served as the See of the Diocese of Alaska.
The Cathedral’s prominent location is hard to miss in the Sitka downtown area. It occupies the center of a circle roundabout on Lincoln Street and situated only three blocks from the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Though it is visited by thousands of tourists each year, St. Michael is an active parish and holds regular services.