Sitka Russian Cemetery

Located in Sitka, the 200-year-old Russian cemetery contains more than 1,600 graves, many marked with headstones made from the ballasts of Russian ships. The cemetery dates is only a short distance from downtown and is an excellent stop for travelers interested in the history of Alaska.

The Sitka Russian Cemetery is noted on maps as a designation for sightseeing, but many of the tours in the area do not include the cemetery as part of their itineraries. For those interested in visiting the cemetery on a self-guided tour, the entrance is not specifically marked with a sign, but it is easily found.

Narrow winding paths along dark forested hillside through ferns, undergrowth, and moss make for a challenging hike, and appropriate footwear is recommended when making the trek. Local historical tours that specialize in Russian history provide tours of the Russian cemetery, Russian Blockhouse, St. Michael's Cathedral, and Castle Hill.

While the grounds and headstones of the Russian cemetery are not maintained, leaving the natural elements to take their toll, the cemetery continues to maintain a quiet beauty and solitude, with its headstones paying homage to its historical past. Some statuary is broken and headstones have sunk into the rich peat soil at uneven angles, but the overall atmosphere of the Sitka Russian cemetery recalls the local history and impact Russian culture in Sitka.

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