Kiev – National Circus of Ukraine

The circus buildings of Kiev

The first stationary circus theater in Kiev was called the “Alcazar” and was opened in 1875 by the Austrian Ignatius Sobbot. It was at the crossroads of the modern B. Khmelnitsky and Pushkin streets. The building of the circus was two-story, built of stone. There were more than 60 artists, ballet from Naples, clowns from London, orchestra with 35 musicians and actions with the participation of 40 horses. However, the content of the circus was unprofitable and the following year it was closed, and the premise was leased to host performances of theatrical companies.

The next 14 years there was no permanent circus in Kiev. Meanwhile other main cities started the opening of stationary circuses: Odessa in 1862, Moscow in 1868, the second circus of Odessa in 1879, Kharkov in 1883, Riga in 1888. Kiev, which experienced at that time a rapid development of culture and economy, could not lag behind. Hence the Kyiv City Сouncil held a competition for the best project of the construction of a stationary circus. The first person who introduced the project was the famous Albert Salomonsky, then, no less authoritative Scipio Ciniselli and other outstanding representatives of the circus world. Despite such a variety of projects, the Counsil 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.

The construction was entrusted to the son-in-law of the Kiev Governor-General Mikhail Dragomirov – Peter Krutikov. The son-in-law of the Kiev official was more suited to this role than anyone else – he was a great admirer of horses. Petr Krutikov’s horse performances were distinguished by an unusual manner of performance and entertainment. Only 2-3 times a year he held public appearances. In 1897, this talented trainer went on tour – Petersburg, Moscow, Odessa. Tickets for his performances were sold out a month in advance, and during the tour in Paris, he was visited by former President of France Casimir Perier.

When Mikhail Krutikov received success and recognition he engaged in circus activities professionally and headed the construction of a stationary circus in Kiev. On November 23, 1903, a circus was built on the site of the modern street of the Architect Gorodetsky. Kutikov named it Hippo-palace (“The Horse Palace”), the final project of the building was executed by the architect Eduard Bradtman.

It was the largest European circus – bricked, two-storied, arranged according to the latest technology. A spacious three-storied hall, a huge dome over an arena, electric lighting. Comfortable chairs were awaiting each of the 2 thousand spectators (after a chapel with wooden benches, this luxury amazed).

The building of the Krutikov Circus was destroyed in 1941, and in its place in 1964 the cinema “Ukraine” was erected.

Due to the Second World War the circus was completely in ruin and it was decided not to rebuild it at the same location. But in liberated Kiev one could already see a quickly erected big top in August 1944 on Troitska Square (at the place in front of the entrance to the modern NSC “Olimpiyskiy”). But due to the relatively small size many people had to be turned away as there wasn’t enough room during the performances.

Therefore, in 1950, the construction of a stationary circus began on a vacant lot at the corner of Saksaganskyi and Velika Vasylkivska streets – according to the project of V. Zhukov. The construction was completed in a record short time – two months. The building was designed in the form of Soviet classics, the facade with a colonnade was decorated with ceramics, the building was crowned by a light metal dome. The opening of the circus took place on August 19, 1950. This circus was named Summer.

The building was a temporary one. It lacked heating, dressing rooms for artists and a foyer for spectators. The circus worked for only 10 years before the construction of the current circus on Victory Square, was completed.

Historic postcard images courtesy of

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Kiev State Circus

The current circus building of Kiev was a project of architect Vladimir Zhukov who created it in Stalinist Empire style. By many architects it is seen as a prime example of Soviet architecture. It was constructed from 1958 to 1960.

On the 5th of November 1960 the new building of the Kiev circus was opened. At its time it was the largest circus of the USSR measuring 14.655 square meters and designed to seat 2.000 people. The construction cost had been 23 million rubles. The opening show was “For you, Kyivans!”, screenplay and production by N. Zinoviev.

The central place in the building’s composition is occupied by the round auditorium for spectators, around which a lobby, buffets, various service rooms and artistic rooms are situated. There are cafeterias in the wings of the building. The circus has all the necessary engineering equipment and special equipment of the circus arena for arranging water pantomimes.

The main facade of the circus house, which repeats the round shape of the audience hall and foyer, is accented by a colonnade of a composite order of round columns. The building has a basement floor, the entire height of which, along the width of the main facade, there are grand staircases leading to the entrances to the circus. The most interesting thing in the building was the installation of an experimental reinforced concrete dome, which was assembled without the use of scaffolding and formwork.

The building has a basement floor, the entire height of which, along the width of the main facade, there are grand staircases leading to the entrances to the circus. The most interesting thing in the building was the installation of an experimental reinforced concrete dome, which was assembled without the use of scaffolding and formwork. Before choosing this project, engineers S.A. Ryvkina, M.S. Grutman, Skachkov (“Hiprocivilprombud” Institute) State Building of the Ukrainian SSR considered several other proposals. The accepted option was recognized as the most economically profitable and the most industrial.

A metal tower with a lifting crane was erected in the center of the building to install the dome. The second crane was erected from outside. Installation was carried out in a hinged manner by sequential assembly of ring belts. After concreting the joints, the ring became self-supporting and acted as a support for the installation of the next belt.

In 2023 repair and reconstruction works were actively underway in the building. The purpose of which was to restore the historical interior, to reproduce the original ideas of the architect. From what has already been achieved, there are escalator steps used by artists to take a bow in the finale of the show.


National Circus of Ukraine / Kiev State Circus
Національний цирк України

2, Peremohy Square
Kyiv 01135