Arena Circus (2001), Khabarovsk, Russia


This photograph of the Khabarovsk State Circus in Gagarin Park was taken in 2001 by Dr. William Brumfield, American photographer and historian of Russian architecture, as part of the "Meeting of Frontiers" project at the Library of Congress. Founded in 1858 as a military outpost, Khabarovsk (population over 600,000) is strategically located at the confluence of the Ussuri and Amur rivers near the Chinese border. As one of the most important Russian cities in the Far East, Khabarovsk has a broad array of cultural institutions, but until the early 2000s it lacked a mainstay of Russian popular culture--a year-round circus. In 2001, the city opened a magnificent new circus building, designed by architect Aleksei Kholzinev and associates to the latest technical specifications. The circular plan of the structure encloses an arena with 1,300 seats. The exterior culminates in a golden dome capped with a spire set within a large ornamental ring. The façade of the building is adorned with fanciful lion masks, while the entrance gallery displays ceramic figures of skomorokhi (traditional Russian clowns) sculpted by local artist Shakhnazar Shakhnazarov. The circus hosts international as well as Russian troupes and has become one of the city's main attractions.

Last updated: January 11, 2016