Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Russian Heritage

The Russian villages along the Alaskan coast give us a glimpse of my heritage as my father was born along the Volga River in the Soviet Union. Most villages are a loose cluster of homes centered around the church and a fleet of fishing boats.

Holy Assumption Russian Orthodox Church in Kenai, built in 1894, is one of the oldest Russian Orthodox places of worship in Alaska. Regular services are still held here.

Icons from Russia and an 1847 Russian edition of the Holy Gospel with enameled icons of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John on the cover are displayed.

The Parish House Rectory, built in 1881, is considered to be the oldest building on the Kenai Peninsula and is the only remaining Russian Rectory still standing in Alaska today. It continues to be the residence of priests who serve the church today.

St. Nicholas Chapel is also on the site, once the location of the Russian trading post of Ft. St. Nicholas. The chapel is a tribute to Father Nicholas, who brought the small pox vaccine to the Kenai Peninsula.

Farther south at the mouth of the Ninilchik River is the fishing village of Ninilchik, founded by the Russians more than one hundred years ago.

High on a hill overlooking the old village and the sea is yet another Russian Orthodox church.

With time on our hands we decided to explore a narrow country road that led to Nikolaevsk, a small settlement of "Russian Old Believers", whose ancestors found their way here after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.

Russian is the first language spoken here. We stopped to take pictures--

                                   --and stayed for lunch at the Samovar Cafe.

                                        Matryoshka doll on left hand-painted by Nina.
We had a lovely authentic Russian meal prepared individually for us by Nina Fefelov, who entertained us with Russian music, educational stories of the village and the Russian way of life.

Nina is an electrical engineer from the far east of Russia living in the United States only the last fifteen years.

                                      Two Old World Believers enjoying Borscht, Piroshki

                                         Nina presenting our carefully prepared meal.


                                                    The cafe was very intimate--

                                               --and the meal elegantly served.

                                                       Desert with Russian Tea

We stayed at Harbor Camp, a U.S. Forest Service Camp where the road dead-ends on the shore of Cook Inlet.

This is also Anchor Point, the most westerly point accessible by road in North America.

Across the Inlet is a beautiful view of the Aleutian Range and several active volcanoes.

                                        Many Bald Eagles entertained us on the beach.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Stunning photography! I learned a lot about the Russian Communities. Thank you for being so informative.