On our recent trip to Alaska, we spent an evening in Soldotna, located on the west coast of the Kenai Peninsula. After dinner at an excellent Thai restaurant, we drove to the Kenai (town) area, specifically Old Town Kenai.This locale was established in 1791 by Russian fur traders and is situated on a bluff overlooking the Kenai River and Cook Inlet.
A significant attraction in Old Town is the Holy Assumption Orthodox Church, a Russian orthodox parish church completed in 1896. This was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1970. The church is in a Pskov style, shaped like a ship, with three onion shaped domes. The inside, reportedly quite attractive, is home to several significant pieces of artwork, artifacts and icons, and is well worth visiting.
The site first had a church built in 1849 by Igumen Nikolai on a nearby plot. This church became a key for the assimilation of the local native population. The church was replaced by the Chapel of St. Nicholas in 1906 over the graves of Igumen Nikolai and two others. There is also an old fisherman’s cabin which is quite charming.
Lastly, one should take some time to gaze out at Cook Inlet and the Katmai Peninsula, especially in the late evening light.