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Report - Abandoned Circus, Moldova - August 2013.

Darmon_Richter

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#1
This now-abandoned circus in the capital of Moldova was built in 1981, while Moldova was still known as the ‘Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic’. Architecturally, the building is interesting as it demonstrates the combination of two strong and separate traditions – the Russian / Soviet circus tradition, along with the socialist-realist movement in architecture, which was reaching a peak by the 1970-80s. For me, the sight of bold, brutalist clowns sculpted from concrete (and some of them now missing heads!) was the absolute pinnacle of the merging of these two themes.

In its heyday, this circus regularly featured performances with trapeze artists, clowns, fire performers, acrobats and exotic animals – including elephants, lions and bears. The circus remained in use for 23 years… even outliving the Soviet Union itself, by a matter of 13 years.

In 2004 however, after Moldova had spiralled deep into a post-Soviet economic depression, wear and tear around the building had overtaken the nation’s ability to maintain it – and the site was closed for extensive repairs. After that, it simply never reopened.

I heard a tip-off about this abandoned circus as I passed through Moldova last year, and naturally I had to go take a look around!

The building is huge. Beneath the grand foyer there are underground storage areas, boiler rooms and other utility spaces – while on the ground floor, the circumference of the building is divided up into dressing rooms, offices and cloakrooms.

Following the marble stairs up to a balcony level, I passed a selection of bizarre murals –*again in the socialist-realist style – depicting various circus performers at work. These corridors continued, floor after floor, all the way up to the building’s ‘crown’ –*where it was possible to access lighting rigs and other gantries above the ring.

Naturally though, the abandoned circus ring itself was the real treasure here. The central auditorium was designed to seat 1,900 people, a massive circular space built up around the 13-metre ring. I spent quite a while here, just taking in the view and absorbing the atmosphere of the place. This was the first (and still only) time I’ve explored an abandoned circus, and the site had a really unique feel to it.

There are currently plans to bring the Chisinau circus back to life. Moldova’s Ministry of Culture are funding the repairs, while one local newspaper claimed that performance artists are already rehearsing for the grand re-opening night. If that happens, I’ll have to head back for another visit – and compare the experience of exploring this abandoned circus to seeing the place once again filled with people and performers.

Anyway, hope you enjoy these pics. As usual I’ve got more, plus a longer report, posted on my blog: Exploring an Abandoned Soviet Circus in Moldova

Cheers people,
DR.



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Oxygen Thief

Admin
Staff member
Admin
#3
Re: Abandoned Circus, Moldova. August 2013.

You think you've seen one of everything, then along comes a commie circus.

Was there any animal cages and lifts etc?
 

Session9

A life backwards
28DL Full Member
#8
Re: Abandoned Circus, Moldova. August 2013.

Wow. That's amazing. Great write up too :)
 

bhg

In Search of Lost Time
Regular User
#12
Re: Abandoned Circus, Moldova. August 2013.

This is great R, quintessence of socialist-realism architecture. Love it!
 

Boomstick84

28DL Regular User
Regular User
#13
Re: Abandoned Circus, Moldova. August 2013.

That's certainly a bit different! Cool report :thumb

Have been enjoying your blog aswell by the way, some really interesting reads. Looks like you get about :D
 

Darmon_Richter

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#15
Re: Abandoned Circus, Moldova. August 2013.

You think you've seen one of everything, then along comes a commie circus.

Was there any animal cages and lifts etc?
No cages as such, but there were a few rooms down a corridor just behind the ring, where I found scraps of straw on the floorboards. Clearly been used for storing some kind of animal. At the end of the corridor from there, there was a pulley-driven goods lift.