Copenhagen – Cirkusbygningen

In 1884, Fritz Petersen, a master carpenter, purchased the site on Jernbanegade, next to Axeltorv, for DKK 954,000. The Circus Building was then built. It was designed by the architect H. V. Brinkopff, while the beautiful horse-racing frieze, which encircles the outside of the building, was created by the sculptor, Frederik Hammeleff.

At that time the Circus Building covered a much bigger site. It stretched right up to Studiestræde and was occupied by stable buildings, which housed all the different circus animals, including elephants, giraffes, and horses. Facing Axeltorv was the Artistcafé, a café, where guests could let their hair down during the intervals. The Artistcafé still exists today.

In spring 1914 a fire broke out in the Circus Building. Sadly, when the fire brigade arrived, it was too late. It took between three and four hours to extinguish the fire. As a result only the foundations, external walls and portal remained. Fortunately the building was empty during the fire, so there was only material damage.

After just one year, in 1915, the Circus Building was rebuilt. This time it was the very first building in Denmark to be constructed with the use of reinforced concrete. The architect, Holger Jacobsen was commissioned to undertake the task, in cooperation with consultant engineer Cock-Clausen. The external walls and frieze of the original building were preserved.

In 1982 the City of Copenhagen began a comprehensive and thorough renovation of the Circus Building with the objective of restoring it to its original appearance. That led to highlighting the distinctive architecture of the Circus Building with the enormous dome, the arched corridors, the festive lobby, the coloured seating and the special circus atmosphere. Meanwhile, everything was given a highly successful, extra touch with the unique colours selected by the architect, Verner Panton.

After the restoration both the Circus Building itself and Verner Panton’s colour scheme were listed. This meant that the future of the Circus Building was secured as a significant part of the city’s cultural life.

Circus Benneweis continued to perform in the Circus Building right up until 1990. Nowadays it is a dinner show under the name Wallman, a well-known quality brand in Scandinavia.


Jernbanegade 8
1608 Copenhagen

Historic images courtesy of
The Circus