The Circus Building

bishkek circus

Rising like a spaceship from the right angles of the city landscape, I chanced upon the Circus Building today. There were echoes of the Deco District on South Beach with its palette and porthole windows. There were hints of Vegas, of a movie set, of The Jetsons. I blustered my way past the guard in the lobby sitting at a card table in a giant fur hat. Through a swinging lobby door into the interior I wandered unhindered for about an hour, snapping photos and taking in the sweeping vistas of Bishkek.

The Circus building is circa 1976 and designed by a quartet whose first names I have yet to ascertain: L. Segal, V. Shardrin, A. Nezhurin and D. Leontovich. There are similar Circus buildings in other former Soviet countries, most circular, grand and crumbling. Circus entertainment was a highlight of Soviet entertainment and the Bishkek Circus building is still in operation. During my stroll and photo shoot, I tiptoed into the hall to see a handful of performers in tights and spangles. Center stage was a big plastic swimming pool with a stage set inside it like an island. Aerial wires crisscrossed overhead.

–photo courtesy of

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