Cyrk bułgarski na Powiślu

A Bulgarian build circus building for the Polish State Circus that already during its opening was recognized as a fire hazard and therefore after the opening performance was left pretty much abandoned. As it was already in ruins it featured as a set for a Polish TV series but it eventually it was demolished to make room for housing.

This is a translation of an article that appeared in a Polish newspaper:

Throughout the period of People’s Poland, Warsaw did not watch such a circus with a circus. At the cost of 10 years of sacrifice by people from the industry, a building was erected in which no performances were given, because it could burn
Last year, 40 years have passed since the opening (or rather, closing!) Date so solemn that few journalists sat in the back rows, because there was no room for them elsewhere. I remember that in each entrance, quite narrow, there was a firefighter next to which several fire extinguishers were placed. What the devil? – I wondered. After the premiere, I was told that it was conditional, because a spark was enough to ignite the interior, and the resulting gases poisoned the entire audience.

As far as I remember, there was only an opening ceremony there, although some say there were a few more performances. In any case, for decades the building in Powiśle at Kruczkowskiego Street remained empty.
Once I came across an article in “Polityka”, the author of which claimed that years of sacrifice for circus crews paid off, because the circus is so beautiful that “too beautiful for a circus”. She wrote it, of course, in 1971, even before the premiere. It was like this – we purchased from the Bulgarians a design of a modern entertainment facility with an ice rink and raised parts of the arena. We built it, but why nobody has tested the materials for flammability and toxicity before – I still don’t know. No heads fell off this scandal, only the circus performers got their asses. The same “Polityka” wrote that for 10 years the base in Julinek was not expanded and no cars were bought – bathhouses for teams traveling around the country, or heating devices for circus tents, because all the money was packed in a circus in Powiśle. – down the drain. I also do not know why this building was not renovated afterwards. A few years ago it was demolished and a luxurious estate was built here, which should be called – At the Circus Graveyard.
And so, since 1945, the capital has not had any permanent facility with clowns, acrobats and trained animals. It is true that in the past the interest in this entertainment was enormous, but today it has weakened significantly. The events of the circus Arena in the 1960s under a tent at the intersection of Chałubińskiego and Aleje Jerozolimskie were watched by 400,000. people, but the audience is now empty.
The first permanent circus in Warsaw was built during the reign of Stanisław August – in Chmielna near Bracka. The main point of the program was to chew wild animals, mostly bears, with dogs. What times, such interests.
The facility was named by the inhabitants of the capital – Heca was a wooden, three-story rotunda, open at the top. And so large that even elephants could freely live there. Heca was renovated several times, but the rains and snow weakened the wood to such an extent that after 1846 it was demolished. At least that is what the old newspapers say, although I came across the information from “Kurier Warszawski” that in 1852 the reconstruction of the building on Chmielna Street was started.


After the January Uprising, a large, modern building was to be erected on Marjańska on Twarda Street, and the foundations for a hexagonal hall for 2,800 people were said to have already been built there, but the newspapers were silent about this building later. Probably not. Two decades later, a permanent circus was built on Ordynackie, initially called Cinselli, probably a branch of one of the most famous Russian Circus Families. There is an interesting, painterly anecdote connected with it. Well, in 1883 the owners ordered a plafond depicting the riders, which was painted by younger artists from the Munich Academy. At the same time, as reported by “Kurier Warszawski”, the famous landscape painter Adam Malinowski was preparing a plafond for the Salamoński circus in Moscow in the decorator of the Warsaw theaters. After 18 years, the Munich ceiling was subject to maintenance so nasty that Warsaw journalists complained about the motley background and defective figures. What is left of the Moscow ceiling lamp? The circus at Ordynacka Street still existed for many years, but it required renovation, because as early as 1903 the authorities noticed narrow exits that made it difficult to evacuate. In 1931, the great circus of the Staniewski brothers invested in this “popular Okrąglak”, as “Polska Zbrojna” wrote about it, and made a major renovation. Old, low-light chandeliers were replaced with spotlights, mirrored doors and the ceiling were attached, and marble walls were placed here. It was already a company. Unfortunately, the defensive war of 1939 expelled the Staniewski family. They were left without a venue, but they did not give up. Gadzinowy “Nowy Kurier Warszawski” reported in 1940 that they had undertaken activities almost in the open air, at the junction of Krucza and Mokotowska Streets, where they had installed a summer circus. The truth about those times is somewhat different from what we are told by TV comics today. Whoever conspired, conspired, and the rest wanted to survive and even have fun. Why not? And the Staniewski brothers had a large audience, offering them performances of “Neptim divers” in a large glass aquarium. Gadzinówka also added – “it is worth emphasizing that the administration maintains pre-war prices.” The largest circus event in the history of the capital was sponsored by the German occupiers. And it is literally, not figuratively. Well, in 1942 they brought their own acrobatic troupe to the city, which performed various tricks on Napoleon Square, which is today the Warsaw Insurgents. The clever tightrope walkers made bends on the ropes stretched next to the building of the former main post office at heights of 20 to 26 meters. The clue of the program, however, was at the end – a rope was attached to the top of the Prudential building, leading over Szpitalna Street to Chmielna. And it came down on a special holder, some Ilsa Mayer. A sensational event, unfortunately happening in the worst time of this city.


After the war, the first circus performances were held in just any tents, and when some people were saved from the turmoil of trained animals, the audience had great joy. It resembled the circus described in 1935 by Melchior Wańkowicz. Buda, that is a rag, stood in Muranowski Square, and tickets cost 10 groszy for children and twice as much for adults. 500 seats were permanently occupied, and the level of performances – obviously poor. Wańkowicz wrote about a “sad circus”, but also noticed that the management earned the artists five zlotys a day. At least they had something to eat. After the war, we had many similar companies, but then the golden time for this entertainment came under state patronage, which resulted in a gigantic turnout from the circus at Chałubińskiego Street. It already seemed that the Bulgarian building on Kruczkowskiego Street would give the city a permanent arena, and here, in the meantime, a circus.


Tamka 29
00-349 Warszawa

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