The history of circus art in Ukraine begins in the 9th century. Traveling performers entertained audiences until 1797. That year, the Contract Fair was moved from Dubno to Kyiv, which led to the appearance of “booth booths” and “circuses-pillars”. They were built from cheap boards and old boxes. This method of construction made the booths look like ordinary sheds. Inside there were benches in several rows for wealthy spectators, and behind them there was a fence specifically for standing places for the “poor”. In the center of the arena there was a pillar that supported a tarpaulin dome.
The first stationary circus theater in Kyiv was called “Alcazar” and was opened in 1875 by the Austrian Ignatius Sobboth. It was located at the intersection of modern Bogdan Khmelnitsky and Pushkinskaya streets. The circus building was two-story, built of stone. More than 60 artists performed here, a ballet from Naples, clowns from London, an orchestra of 35 musicians, and there were also performances involving 40 horses. However, maintaining the circus was unprofitable and the following year it closed, and the premises were rented out to touring theater troupes. For the next 14 years there was no permanent circus in Kyiv. Meanwhile, stationary circuses began to open in neighboring cities: in Odessa in 1862, in Moscow in 1868, the second circus in Odessa in 1879, in Kharkov in 1883, in Riga in 1888.
Kyiv, which at that time was experiencing rapid development of culture and economy, could not lag behind. The City Duma held a competition for the best project for the construction of a stationary circus. The first to present the project was the famous Albert of Salomon, then the no less authoritative Scipio Ciniselli and other outstanding representatives of the circus world. Despite such a variety of projects, the Duma rejected all proposals and decided to create a special city commission for the construction of a city circus. It was headed by the famous Kiev architect Georgy Shleifer (Brodsky Synagogue, Shleifer’s mansion). The construction itself was entrusted to the son-in-law of the Kyiv governor-general. On November 23, 1903, a circus was built on the site of the modern street of the architect Gorodetsky. The final design of the building was carried out by the architect Eduard Bradtman (Franko Theater, Kiev Conservatory, house of the weeping widow).
It was the largest circus in Europe – brick, two-story, built with the latest technology. A spacious three-tier hall, a huge dome over the arena, electric lighting. Each of the 2,000 spectators was waiting for a comfortable chair – after the tent with wooden benches, such luxury was amazing). The circus building was destroyed in 1941, and in its place in 1964 the cinema “Ukraine” was erected. The current circus building was built in the second half of the 1950s according to the design of the architect V. Zhukov, and opened on November 5, 1960. The external cladding is made in light colors – the walls are lined with ceramic tiles, the columns are covered with Inkerman stone, and the plinths are covered with pink granite. Innovative technology was used to build the dome cover. There are several foyers, cafe-buffets, an additional arena with a balcony, technical rooms, and the capacity of the main hall is 2,100 people.
In 1998, the Kiev State Circus received the status of the national circus of Ukraine, which gave it the right to be called the main circus of Ukraine. On its basis, most of the acts that tour the world are created. Today the circus has its own artists of various circus genres, a ballet troupe, and one of the best musical groups.
Where is the national circus of Ukraine?
Pobeda Square, 2
(044) 486-39-27, 236-39-39