The first plans for a circus building in Copenhagen, Denmark envisioned an extravagant building with an elaborate facade with statues and Greek columns but in the end a much simpler design was chosen. The Circus building was designed by the architect Henrik Vilhelm Brinkopff and built from 1885 to 1886 in the area outside the former Western City Gate which was Copenhagen’s premier entertainment district with nearby venues such as Tivoli Gardens and National Scala.
The Circus Building was inaugurated on 8 May 1886 by the circus troupe of Ernst Jabob Rens who himself had build permanent circus buildings in the cities such as Berlin, Vienna, Hamburg and Breslau (now Wroclaw). In Copenhagen he leased the new building on a three-year contract, but Renz sub-rented the building in 1887 to his German colleague, Albert Schumann the Elder, who, a few years earlier, had opened a circus in the Swedish town of Malmö on the other side of the Øresund from Copenhagen.
In March 1914, the Circus building was devastated by a fire which left only the outer walls standing. It was quickly rebuilt, under the direction of the architect Holger Jacobsen, and reopened in 1915 with the German Zirkus Sarrasani as tenant.
In 1916, Cirkus Schumann performed in the building. The company was run by Willy, Ernst, and Oscar Schumann, nephews of Albert Schumann, after they had taken over the family business from their father, Max Schumann, the previous year. They returned to the Circus building in 1918 and except for a few years’ break during the beginning of World War II performed there every summer until 1968. During the war the Jewish circus family Strassburger even managed to perform in the circus building with their Dutch Circus Mikkenie-Strassburger. A war forced joint-venture with the Dutch Frans Mikkenie who after the war and partnership had ended would start his own circus. The name Schumann however became synonymous with circus in Denmark, and won a reputation as one of the best in Europe, particularly for equestrian presentations.
In 1963, a retail company, Anva, bought the Circus building to replace it with a modern department store but the plans were abandoned after massive protests and due to lack of funding. Still, due to escalating rent and the uncertainty about the building’s future, Cirkus Schumann chose to leave the building in 1969.
The Schumanns were succeeded by another prominent Danish circus, Benneweis, headed by Eli Benneweis, presenting summer performances from 1970 to 1990. In 1974, the City bought the building and rented it out to the Benneweis family, who also became responsible for operating the World Cinema during the winter months.
In 1988, the Circus building was listed by the Danish Heritage Agency. After decreasing ticket sales, Circus Benneweis decided to leave the building in 1990. The building has since been used for a variety of activities and events, including musicals, ballet, conferences and concerts.
The German Dream circus Roncalli gave guest performances as did the Stardust Circus International production of the Chinese State Circus with a performance based on the tales of Hans Christian-Anderson. Since 2003, the building has been leased by Wallmans salonger, a Swedish entertainment company, which uses it for a dinner and entertainment venue.
1608 København V
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