A disappearing cultural event: Budapest circuses

Vivi Bencze | Live the World

November 23, 2022

I’m pretty sure all of you have been to a circus at least once in your childhood, with your parents, a granny or someone else. As a child, watching a circus show was always one of the most entertaining programs I could ever imagine. But time passed and my teenage years, and then the twenties brought other interests and ways of entertaining in my life. For some reason though, the older I got, the more I am starting to be interested in such events again. This must be the same for others I guess, so I urge you to give it a chance again, think back when you were there last time, how remarkable that experience was for you as a little child. If you have children, even better, give them the same chance to taste what it is like to be in a classical circus – they will surely love it and are going to recall it as a pleasant memory later on! Even though it counts as a disappearing cultural event nowadays, let me show you two of Budapest traditional circuses.

Photo © Credit to richterfloriancirkusz.hu

Eötvös Cirkusz

One of the oldest circuses in the history of Hungary is Eötvös Cirkusz, which has a fairy story to start with. Five generations ago, at the end of the 19th century, a Czech circus dynasty, the Winiczky family, came to Hungary with their widely-known show. They had a beautiful daughter, taking part in horse shows, who stole one noble Hungarian young man’s heart. Owing to the boy’s social rank, his family hardly opposed the romance, which resulted in Ferencz Eötvös travelled away with Johanna Winiczky and her family to join their circus. The rest is history. Yet, in the same year they had met (1894), their child was born. His name was certain Nándor Aladár Eötvös who founded Eötvös Cirkusz in Hungary 100 years ago, in 1920. They operate until this very day with regular shows in several Hungarian cities beyond Budapest, including Kalocsa and Székesfehérvár.

Fővárosi Nagycirkusz

The Capital Circus of Budapest (Fővárosi Nagycirkusz in Hungarian) is the oldest still-operating circus in this Central European country. Its location is very favourable since many other tourist attractions and facilities can be found nearby. Among others, the famous Széchenyi Spa, the Budapest Zoo, Városliget, the capital’s charming park and even the Heroes Square are only a stone’s throw away from here. Its story began back in 1889, when Ede Wulff, a German-Dutch businessman had the facility built and opened the circus with a capacity of 2290 seats. Although today, only 1450 people fit in the circus, beyond traditional circus shows, multiple other cultural programs are held in it, such as operettas, fashion shows, sports events, concerts and more. The audience almost every single day has a chance to enjoy the entertainment provided by the company - their main show can regularly be observed from 3 pm.

Photo © Credit to FNC.hu

The tradition of circuses is a 250-year-old cultural heritage, which unfortunately, has become a disappearing cultural event for our present days. I firmly believe that we ought to keep it up for ourselves and our children because not many ways of recreation have such a long history. Because of the inclusion of certain endangered species and alleged, inappropriate handling of the animals, some rightfully object to a few elements of a classical circus show. Yet, I reckon there are dozens of compromises and solutions by which it will be possible to preserve these events for posterity. Visit Budapest and have fun guys!

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