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"You must be here to take on the Combine. Not sure what one man can do, but... no other reason to visit St. Olga at a time like this."
The Fisherman[src]

St. Olga is a location cut from Half-Life 2 and reused in the technology demo Half-Life 2: Lost Coast.


Located along the Coast, St. Olga consists in a small fishing village being attacked by a Headcrab Shell launcher, and a Byzantine monastery located at the top of a cliff overlooking the sea, partially surrounded by scaffolding, hinting it was probably being restored prior to the Combine invasion.


The Headcrab Shell launcher in the church.

Half-Life 2: Lost Coast

In Lost Coast, Gordon Freeman awakens in a shallow tide on a beach near St. Olga. A Fisherman has apparently been waiting for him, and tells that he must be there to "take on the Combine" and take out their Headcrab Shell launcher, located in the Combine-occupied monastery above and attacking the village nearby, probably hiding Resistance members.

As Freeman progresses along the cliffside to get into the monastery, he is attacked by Overwatch soldiers, and a few Headcrab Shells can be seen hitting the village and causing fires. Once inside the church, Freeman finds the Headcrab Shell launcher and sabotages it by blocking the mechanism, after which other Overwatch troops and a Hunter-Chopper attack. After defeating the Combine, Freeman returns below near the Fisherman through a mechanic lift. The Fisherman suggests to follow him to an unspecified (and apparently safe) part of St. Olga for a feast of Leeches, at which point the screens turns black and the game ends.

Behind the scenes

Inside the monastery's church.

  • According to Viktor Antonov, each area of the level was designed with a specific purpose. An Eastern Orthodox architectural / Byzantine style was deliberately chosen for the monastery, as buildings of this type "are very colorful and have a large variety of materials" and are "often lit naturally, with extremes of darkness and brightness" (in opposition to Gothic churches that are the sober, monochromatic spaces that anyone has seen in almost every horror film or game), providing an ideal showcase for the HDR lighting effects. Antonov also considers churches great dramatic spaces. The team also thought that the use of a monastery would help provide a starker contrast between old human architecture and futuristic Combine technology found within it, as monasteries are generally isolated, unlit, and built ages ago.[1]
  • According to Robin Walker, the cliffside leading to the monastery has a gameplay-oriented purpose and is meant to mirror a similar cliffside combat scene seen in the Half-Life chapter Surface Tension, which the team regretted to be unable to iterate further on it in Half-Life 2. It has an emphasis on vertical space, which forces the player to deal with threats from above and below. The team found that players focus their view on the direction they are traveling, so by using a cliffside, and having the player ascend it, they ensured the player looks up and is prepared for enemies. If the player's path is to move past the bottom of the cliffside, soldiers rappelling down from above would unlikely be noticed.[1]
  • According to Robin Walker, the monastery's courtyard was designed as what they call an arena, which is built to hold the player for a period of time, and usually contain combat or some other challenge. They often have multiple entry-points for enemies, along with a gate of some kind to prevent the player moving on, until the challenge has been completed. In this case, the arena is free of enemies until the player solves a puzzle, and triggers an alarm. This is a method that allows the player to explore the arena, and get a sense of its space before being forced to fight in it. It adds a sense of uneasiness to the player, who is expecting to be attacked now that they have reached the goal set for them at the start of the map. The break in action there is also said to be a crucial part of the level's pacing. It allows the player to recover and explore the world a little, after being attacked on the way up the cliffside.[1]


The cliffside, similar to the photograph below.

Two small boats in the harbor of Manarola, Italy.

  • Mount Athos Monastery.

    This location was probably meant to be somewhere in between the Half-Life 2 chapters Highway 17 and Sandtraps.
  • Although St. Olga was cut from Half-Life 2, it cannot be found in the WC mappack, where most of the cut locations can be found.[3]
  • St. Olga may be named after Saint Olga of Kiev, the first Christian queen of Kiev, Kievan Rus', and the Eastern Christian patron saint of widows.
  • The monastery style and setting are probably based on the complex of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Meteora, Greece, notably featured in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only. It also bears striking resemblance to the Mount Athos Monastery.
  • The village and the cliffside may be based on a village similar to Manarola, Italy.
  • While it is very difficult, the village can be reached without cheats, but it only consists in a large 3D skybox.


Concept art


Real world images

Images of the similar real world locations mentioned above.

List of appearances