Sitka, Alaska is located on Baranof Island and the southern half of Chichagof Island in the Alexander Archipelago of the Alaska Panhandle. The population was 8,881 as of the 2010 census. It is the largest city-borough in the United States, with a land area of 2,870.3 square miles and a total area, including water area, of 4,811.4 square miles. Sitka is only accessible by boat or plane
The area was originally settled by the Tlingit people over 10,000 years ago. The Russians settled Old Sitka in 1799, calling it Redoubt Saint Michael. Sitka was the site of the signing of the Alaska purchase in 1867. Alaska’s first newspaper, the Sitka Times, was published in Sitka following the Alaska purchase. Sitka served as the capital of the Alaska Territory until 1906, when the seat of government was relocated to Juneau. For the first half of the nineteenth century, Sitka was the most important port on the West Coast.
Today, Sitka offers an abundance of outdoor, recreational opportunities, including kayaking, hiking, backpacking, mountain climbing, and fishing.
In the town center is Sitka’s onion-domed St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral, which has an impressive collection of Russian icons. Nearby, the Isabel Miller Museum in Harrigan Centennial Hall houses Russian and American artifacts, while the Sheldon Jackson Museum offers a 5,000-piece collection of Native art, cultural and everyday objects. At Castle Hill, the first American flag in Alaska was raised in 1867.
Just a half-mile away, in Sitka National Historical Park, you can explore the Tlingit Fort and battlefield from the 1804 Battle of Sitka. A collection of Southeast Alaskan totem poles rings a coastal trail in the Tongass National Forest. At the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center, Native artists create traditional crafts. Also here is the Russian Bishop’s House, one of the last surviving examples of Russian colonial architecture in North America.