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Chisinau, Moldova

Chisinau State Circus

This abandoned Soviet circus is slowly being restored to its Communist-era glory. 

An abandoned Communist-era circus in Moldova, the poorest country in Europe, is once again coming to life. 

The Chişinău State Circus was officially opened in 1981 and was, at the time, a top circus entertainment venue with state-of-the-art equipment and spaces for rehearsals, animals, and veterinarians. It had a capacity of 1,900 seats and the ring was over 40 feet across, making it the largest auditorium in Moldova. Circus artists would travel from near and far (Belarus, China, Finland, Germany, Russia, Ukraine etc.) to perform there, and at its peak, 57 concerts were held there in the space of a year.

The Moldovan independence and the introduction of a market economy initially led to a rapid inflation resulting in a serious economic crisis. Still, today, Moldova is the poorest country in Europe, even though the economy has recovered and is growing steadily. Under these circumstances there was no room for a circus and the venue was abandoned in 2004.

Luckily, a decade later, on the 30th of May, 2014, Circul came back to life. A long restoration process funded mainly by the Ministry of Culture had been going on for years and finally a smaller venue was opened in the building. There’s now room for 300 people sitting in the round, and features shows including clowns, gymnasts, acrobats, and exotic animals in classic circus fashion.

After being forgotten for a decade the Chişinău State Circus is once again slowly waking to life, restoring its past glory and bringing joy and entertainment to a new generation of Moldovans.