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In 1741, Russia claimed Alaska as its colony due to the abundance of natural resources the vast territory provided, and, soon after, Russians began making Alaska their home. Today, signs of Russian civilization are evident through historical landmarks such as historic Russian Orthodox Churches.
Thirty historical Orthodox churches reside within the great state of Alaska. Among those, 23 are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Two of the most famous and picturesque are on the Kenai Peninsula, south of Anchorage. The Holy Transfiguration of Our Lord Chapel was built in 1901 in Ninilchik. It replaced the original structure built in 1886, and it still possesses the rich historical artifacts of the former church.
Just north of Ninilchik is the beautiful town of Kenai. Kenai is home to the Holy Assumption Orthodox Church, built in 1841, today a National Historic Landmark. In its early years, this church was more than a place of worship, but a meeting place of different cultures. It was the first school in Kenai Peninsula and served as a courthouse adjudicating conflicts between the Russian-American Fur Trading Company and Native Alaskans.
To plan a trip to Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, go to kenaipeninsula.org.