Located on Sitka Sound, Sitka is the only Inside Passage community that fronts the Pacific Ocean. The city is marked by the picturesque remnants of its Russian heritage, including the onion-shaped domes and gold colored crosses of the beloved Saint Michael's Russian Orthodox Cathedral. The city and borough limits include most of Baranof Island, where the city of Sitka is located, along with south Chichagof Island and many other small, forested islands along the coast. Although first inhabited by Native Tlingit Indians, Sitka is recognized as the heart of the Russian influence in Alaska. The Russians arrived by 1741 and in 1804 attacked a Tlingit fort. The region’s most famous battle eventually led to the creation of Sitka National Historical Park. Originally established as New Archangel, Sitka became the capital of Russian American in 1808 until Russia sold Alaska to the United States on October 18, 1867.
The visitor's centers has information on several walking tours that highlight the city’s history and culture including the Russian Blockhouse, Russian Bishop's House, Princess Maksoutoff’s Grave and Castle Hill to name a few, that date back to the Russian era. There are 22 buildings in Sitka on the National Register of Historic Places, so there’s plenty to see on a walk through town. Downtown features numerous art galleries, a fine bookstore and gift shops. Sitka National Historical Park features a remarkable collection of totem poles carved by Tlingit and Haida artists that are placed along a well-maintained trail in the forest. Near the park is Sheldon Jackson Museum, one of two official Alaska State Museums. The museum's impressive collection represents many different Alaska Native cultures.