Resting between snowcapped mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Sitka is one of the most beautiful seaside towns in Alaska and the biggest city in America – encircling 4,710 square miles on Baranof Island. No symbol shows Russian influence more than the landmark St. Michael’s Cathedral. Original artifacts and icons, including the Sitka Madonna, were saved from fire and are on display. Visit Castle Hill, once site of a two-story log mansion known as Baranof’s Castle, which overlooked Sitka Sound during the town’s fur trading days. Only stone walls and mounted cannons remain from Russia’s bloody battles against native Tlingit. Sitka National Historical Park offers information and artifacts relating to the Tlingits, including totem poles as a chronicle of early life on this fertile ground. Alaska Raptor Rehabilitation Center cares for as many as a dozen bald eagles and other birds at a time. The facility caters to rare wildlife recovering from injuries incurred in the wild. Among the more popular trails is Indian River Trail, which parallels a salmon stream, and the three-mile-long Gaven Hill Trail.
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