The founders of the first circus in Russia were brothers Dmitry, Akim and Peter Nikitin. The children of a serf peasant from early childhood immersed themselves in circus art: when their father got free, he took his sons on a trip to the Volga region, earning a living by juggling and musical performances. Each of the children fulfilled their role. Akim was the main comedic character, performed as a clown and played various musical instruments. Peter surprised the audience with physical strength and dexterity, and the oldest, Dmitry, was a joker-presenter. In the end, their "tour" stopped in Penza, where in 1873 they opened the first stationary circus in Russia — the "Ice Palace". Piles were laid out on the banks of the Sura River, on which poles fastened with ice were installed. The simple structure was covered with a canopy, and the first circus in the history of Russia was ready. However, each arrival of spring forced circus performers to curtail their activities.
Three years later, the brothers opened a circus in Saratov. They bought the building for the circus from a local businessman Emmanuel Baranek, and it lasted almost until the end of 1928. Only Russian artists performed in the arena, which was an important condition of the Nikitin brothers. The new building of the Saratov Circus was built according to the project of architect Boris Vilensky, known for the construction of some stations of the Moscow metro. It was in Saratov that famous comedians Pencil (Mikhail Rumyantsev) and Sunny Clown (Oleg Popov) began their creative path, trainers Mstislav and Walter Zapashny worked.
The idea of creating a circus in northern Palmyra has been visited by Russian patrons more than once. The turning point was the appearance in the city of the traveling troupe of the famous Austrian circus performer Karl Ginne. A foreigner, extremely surprised by the absence of a permanent circus in the main city of the Russian Empire, was forced to rent a dilapidated building on the banks of the Neva River. With his own money, Ginne began the construction of a wooden circus, and when he left St. Petersburg, this new building became the property of the Italian Gaetano Ciniselli, who decided to build the first stone circus in Russia. Ciniselli managed to persuade the emperor to give a place for construction in the city center, on the Fontanka River embankment. It is there that the St. Petersburg Circus, opened in 1877, stands to this day.
The stone building of the circus became an architectural triumph of its time. Architect Vasily Kenel built the structure for the first time at a record span amplitude for the dome (about 50 meters), which created a unique acoustics in the circus. The interior was decorated with luxurious fabrics and precious stones, and the capacity of the hall reached, according to the memoirs of contemporaries, more than five thousand people.
At first, the performances in the new building were not a great success. The Ciniselli family could not enrich themselves at his expense and went completely bankrupt. In 2015, the circus on Fontanka was not only reconstructed according to the latest "circus fashion", but also the name of the Italian founders was returned to it.