Kyrgyz State Circus, Bishkek, Kirguistán 

Designed in 1976, this UFO-shaped structure was built to welcome circus acts from around the world—or, more likely, from around the USSR. Unlike many structures of its kind, the Bishkek Circus still functions as an actual circus to this day. In fact, this architectural gem is a testimony to the role that the circus played in the Soviet Union.

Due to the lack of official records, it is all but impossible to pinpoint when the first circus appeared. Itinerant acts consisting of proto-clowns and musicians called skomorokhy wandered the Russian land in the 11th century, and they used to combine music, magic performance, dancing, and slapstick humor.

They were more akin to street performers than to the circus, but the seeds were planted, and very soon, show booths began appearing where the audience was treated to trapeze and gymnastic stunts.

Epic Kyrgyzstan Culture & Adventure Route © Monika Newbound

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