Blackpool Tower Circus

Take a sort of copy of the Eiffel tower and imagine a building between it's four legs. What to put in the middle? Quite naturally the answer is a CIRCUS! It is one of the most legendary circus locations of the United Kingdom, the beloved clown Charlie Cairoli was one the big stars for many years and the legendary ringmaster Norman Barrett also featured in many of the Blackpool Tower Circus shows. Thousands of people who would spend their holiday at the beach in Blackpool would not leave without having seen at least one of the shows.

Luckily Laci & Maureen Endresz and their family are still producing circus shows at this historical venue.

Circus Krone Bau MunichThe Bavarian capitol has been the home to Circus Krone for many years. This building is the third Krone building at this location. The first was destroyed by boms at the end of WW II. The second building was quickly erected after the war which ment it needed to be replaced later on by the current building.

Inside the Circus Krone Bau Munich Ceiling of the Circus Krone Bau Munich

Circus Krone Bau Munich by night in Winter

the Circusbuilding of CopenhagenThe Copenhagen circusbuilding was in use as a circus till it was taken over and turned into a dinnershow venue. For years the famous Schumann Family gave shows in the building after which Eli Benneweis of Cirkus Benneweis took over. During World War Two the Jewish circus family Strassburger played the building with their circus Mikkenie-Strassburger as well as touring Denmark with their big top.

The German Circus Roncalli was one of the last circuses to play the building.

Foyer of the Circusbuilding of CopenhagenFoyer of the Circusbuilding of Copenhagen

the Cirque d’Hiver-Bouglione de ParisIt is the oldest surviving circus building in the world. The flying trapeze was invented here by Leotard and for the movie “Trapeze” Tony Curtis, Gina Lollobrigida and Burt Lancaster where here since the building was used as the set. Luckily this magical place for circus lovers is still in use as a circus building. Every winter the Bouglione family present a wonderful show with a great orchestra, ballet which combined with the buildings atmosphere makes an unique thrilling experience.

In my opinion true circus fans are those who have seen at least one show in this building situated in the heart of Paris, France. Close to the Place de la République and right in front of the metro Filles du Calvaire.

Finale Cirque d’Hiver-Bouglione de Paris Place au Cirque - Cirque d’Hiver-Bouglione de Paris

Cirque des Variétés de Liège Belgium circus of variety Luik circusgebouwThe remains of the former circus building of Luik which was build as a manege and place for circus performances. It was here that the famous white face clown Pipo Sosman sr. made his debut as "Youngest horse rider in the world".

On the 18th september 1875 the Société du Manège de Liège is offering the building in a public sale. The new owner Léopold Joseph Lacroix turns it into a skating ring, the new rage at that time.

After the skating era the circus is turned into the Théâtre des Variété under the ownership of a mister Philipps. In 1880 the shows are stopped a couple of time due to financial difficulties. This is how it came to be that in October 1880 the circus was back in the building! To be precise the Cirque Corty who was passing Liège in the fun fair period and was looking for a venue to play.

Cirque des Variétés Liège - Circusgebouw Luik Photographer Piet-Hein OutHence since 1880 from time to time circuses played in the building.

Around 1890-1895 a new Société du Manège de Liège is set up and its director decides to construct a complete new circus. The neighborhood didn't like the plans at all because they thought the outside would look terrible. On the inside however it would seen like Eiffel himself would have come to Liège to construct the building. In the end the new building designed by François Petit was erected. The circus ring was situated approximately at the first floor of the building. The loge boxes od the 3rd and 4th floor had their own staircases, the stables were located on the ground floor.

In the 60's the building was converted into a car park where the cars where whizzed up to the top floors by heavy duty elevators.

Nowadays the bottom floor is occupied by a fitness studio, the top floors are sitting empty waiting for a new purpose.

 

the Cirque Jules Verne AmiensThe Circus Building of Amiens, also known as the Cirque Municipale was opened by author Jules Verne who was an advisor for the city of Amiens at that time. The building from 1886 replaced a wooden structure that stood in the same place since 1875. It is said that even Barnum & Bailey played it on a European tour, but if this is true? Sure is that Frederico Fellini filmed here and that many other famous French performers played inside. From time to time the Cirque Arlette Gruss also brings it's shows to the building combining the magic of their modern shows with the magic atmosphere of the building.

Circus dome ceiling Amiens Stables of the Amiens circus building

the Fővárosi Nagycirkusz - Capital Circus BudapestThe circus building in Budapest can look back on a long history. On that spot opposite the famous Baths and at the Zoo there has been a circus building since 1889. It was the board of zoo directors who contacted Ede Wulf a German circus proprietor to build a circus building next to the Zoo in Városliget. This because they noticed the enormous popularity of having the zoo animals perform tricks for visitors. Wolf had brought the metal structure circus from the World Exhibition in Brussels and it would also allow water revues. The premiere was on Thursday the 27th of June 1889.

However the succes faded and in 1904 both circus and zoo were on the verge of bankruptcy. So the municipality of Budapest decided to take over and rent out the building. The first one to rent was the famous Russian equestrian Mátyás Beketow. He signed a lease for 4 years and started on the 30th of April 1904. The popularity of his shows made that the circus was called Circus Beketow from that moment on. At one point the lease of the building was granted to a competitor of Beketow, Könyöt. After several years of traveling with his own circus through Scandinavia, Italia and Vienna. However 1923 he got the lease back and invested heavily in the circus building. Too much, in 1928 he went bankrupt in Vienna and killed himself on the boat back to Budapest. His son took over.

During WWII the circus was closed in 1944 by the city because of the increased bombing. During the war the Germans used it as stables and in 1945 the Göndör Brothers rented the Capital Circus as it was now called and renovated it completely. 

On the 17th of September 1949 the circus was nationalized. New bathrooms and dressing room were added. In 1966 it was announced that the old building would be replaced by a new one. During the tear down and construction a circus tent was erected at the crossroad of György Dózsa and Damjanich street were performances were given till 1970. On the 14th of January 1971 the new (and current) building was inaugurated.

Full house during finale Capital Circus Budapest - Photo Piet-Hein OutFront Façade View Capital Circus Budapest - Photo Piet-Hein Out

Hippodrome Circus Great YarmouthThe Hippodrome Circus in Great Yarmouth is currently owned by Peter Jay and his family. They still produce circusshows there in summer and christmas as well as many other events. They still use the water ring by lowering it during a show and having a complete synchronized swimming ballet performing. 

Outside the Hippodrome Circus Great Yarmouth

the Hippodrome de DouaiThe Hippodrome of Douai, France is an old circusbuilding. Up to it's most recent renovation classical circus shows still took place. However since the renovation it is in use as a theater which only host Nouveau Cirque type of shows from time to time. Funnily enough the big parking in front of the building is still used by circuses to put up their big tops when they come to Douai.

Before WOI the circus had a classical straight lined dome similar to the Cirque d'Hiver in Paris and the Hippodrome of Valenciennes. After being severely damaged during the war it was replaced by this elegant rounded dome.

Dome ceiling of the Hippodrome de Douai 

the Circusbuilding of MalmöThe Scandinavian climate made the use of a nice heated venue for circus in the winter time even more necessary for the circus owners. The short tented season could be started earlier or ended later in a building. That is why also in this region where circus is still very popular until this day you can also find several circus buildings. In Malmö the theater is situated at two locations one of them is The Hipp, an abbreviation for the original name Hippodromen which was used as a circus building for many years.

The front in Moorish style of the Circus Le Manege in Verviers BelgiumThe former circus building of Verviers Belgium was destroyed by a fire a long time ago. The front of the building in Moorish style survived however as did the rehearsal ring. Nowadays this building has been recently renovated and houses appartements. The outer borders of the former circus are followed by the new building and the arena in the middle is open. The old rehearsal ring has been renovated and is used as the car park for the people living there. The old stables that survived the fire have been incorporated into the apartment building. So when you are in the round open middle section where the circus ring and auditorium used to be you are actually standing below the former ring and in the stables.

The old entrance from rehearsal ring to backstage area and stables. Le Manege Verviers Belgium. photo Piet-Hein Out The old stables. Le Manege Verviers Belgium. photo Piet-Hein Out

the dome ceiling of New Circus of Gent or Gand BelgiumThe Nieuw Circus (translated: New Circus) was the second circus building of Gent, Belgium. In the first years of it's existence it was competing with an older wooden circus building named Hippodroom or "De Drie Sleutels" (translated: The Three Keys). After a big fire only the facade of the circus survived, but the building was rebuild. However in 1946 it featured the last circus shows. In 1947 the family Mahy took out the seating and ring and turned the building into a garage. After it closure in 1974 the family used the location for decades to store their oldtimer collection.

During my visit in the fall of 2014 I was more than surprised to find the old stables still more-or-less intact.

The building will be transformed and renovated/remodeled in the coming year(s). The old stables will disappear to make room for a event hall/ disco on the -1 level above which the original location of the ring will become a public square (yet still underneath the circus roof).

The New Circus of Gent Belgium former stables of the New Circus of Gent Belgium

the Netherlands Royal Theater Carré in AmsterdamEvery winter around Christmas the World Christmas Circus brings back the circus to the Royal Theater Carré in Amsterdam. The shows are famous since they always feature the world best performers and winners of the Circusfestival in Monte Carlo and other circus festivals.

The Carré family had ties to the Salomonsky family because Oscar Carré was married to Amalia Salomonska. It was Oscar who first came to Amsterdam in a rented wooden structure on the Amstelveld Fun Fair. After a lot of persuading he managed to get a permit to build the Royal Circus Carré building on the banks of the river Amstel. His succes had made him the Royal Dutch Circus. It his said his circus even performed in the bedroom of the young princes Wilhelmina (later the Queen) at the palace.

After the Carré family has sold the building it was used mainly as a theatre. It was the Jewish Strassburger family who brought back the tradition of circus in the wintertime. They would present three different shows each winter. A December/January show, a February show and a March show. In the summertime they would play in the Circusbuilding of Scheveningen. After the death of owner Karl Strassburger the circus lasted a couple of more years but then the family had to give up.

In more recent year the entire old stables entire backstage area were replaced by a new theatre tower with a bigger stage. Several years after that the auditorium and front of house area where renovated and the buildings foundation replaced (a necessity in Amsterdam). Direct under the roof of Carré the restaurant Oscars was created and by opening up part of the roof and replacing it by windows people who dine there have a wonderful view on the old centre of Amsterdam. When all the seats and loge boxes were taken out of the auditorium builders discovers several layers of old painted loge box coverings which gave a good idea of how the interior of the circus building had evolved over the years.

 

Carré before the big auditorium renovation  The circus ring in Carré Amsterdam

the 1st Circus Busch Hamburg which became the Schiller OperThis was the circus building that Paul Busch and his wife originally build in Hamburg Sankt Pauli, close to the Heiligengeistfeld. 

His biggest competitor was the old Renz and his building in Hamburg close to the Reeperbahn. When Renz had died his children sold the building to Paul Busch. This first building was transformed into the Schiller Opera. The Renz/Busch building didn't survive WW II with also ment the archives of the circus Busch were destroyed. This building however survived. In 2014 the biggest part of the building will be torn down since only the original part of the metal skeleton is listed as a monument. Plan is to erect social housing around it and create studio's for artists to work. The metal skeleton will be incorporated as a reminder of the circus that used to stand at this location.

Dome ceiling of the 1st Circus Busch Hamburg 

the Circusbuilding of KievThe circusbuilding of Kiev is one of the biggest circus buildings in the world. In June 2011 I visited the Golden Trick Circus Festival in Kiev and on the morning of the 11th of June I decided to take a look at the circus building, even though in the summer time they do not give any shows. I was lucky enough to be received by the director of the Ukrainian State Circus the world famous wild animal trainer Vladimir Shevchenko. He gave the orders to put on the lights inside the auditorium so I could take some pictures. I was even permitted to take a picture of him sitting behind his desk in his office. 

On October 24th 2012 Vladimir Shevchenko passed away, his wife Ludmilla took over his duties as General Director of the Ukrainian State Circus.

Ring of the Circusbuilding of Kiev Former Director of the Ukrainian State Circus and wild animal trainer Vladimir Shevchenko in his office

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