Ciniselli Circus


The Ciniselli Circus (now the Bolshoi Saint Petersburg State Circus) opened on December 26, 1877. The first stone structure in Russia purpose-built for the circus, it was regarded by many as the most beautiful circus building in Europe. The building was designed by architect Vasily Kenel (1834–93), who also produced this watercolor, which has his signature in the lower right-hand corner. The building was a unique engineering structure for its time, designed and built on the basis of the state-of-the-art engineering principles and methods. For the first time, inner supporting pillars were not used to support the vaulted roof, a record-breaking bay 49.7 meters in diameter, thus creating an unusual space effect. The statues on the facade were created by Italian sculptor Enrico Butti (1847–1932). The Ciniselli Circus became one of the main attractions of Saint Petersburg and was a paramount entertainment center of the Russian capital. It was also where the world’s first Museum of Circus Art was opened in 1928.

Last updated: February 26, 2014