The pioneers of State Russian Circus, the brothers Dmitry, Akim and Pyotr Nikitin had their wooden circus built at Bannoye Lake (now the crossing of Ulitsa Chernyshevskogo (Chernyshevskogo Stree) and Ulitsa Dzerzhinskogo (Dzerzhinskogo Street)) in Kazan in 1890.
The circus was nationalized in 1924, and a new wooden circus was built in 1928, named in honour of the 8th anniversary of the Tatar Soviet Socialist Republic. The Kazan circus, due to the unsafe condition of the building, was finally closed in 1961, and the building burned down later.
The new circus was a ferro-concrete building resting on 289 pylons, erected next to the Kremlin in 1967. The shape of the circus is defined by two gigantic conjoined bowls, making it look like a UFO, 23 metres (75 feet) tall and 65 metres (213 feet) in diametre. The architects of Kazan Circus, Uzbek Alparov, Valentina Panova and Gennady Pichuyev designed the building without any supporting pillars, with two riding rings, and with all the utility premises inside the building, as opposed to outside of it. The project won gold, silver and bronze medals at the VDNKh of the Soviet Union. Its model was exhibited at the international trade expo in Leipzig, East Germany, in 1982.
A Tatar Circus Company performed at the circus for 19 years, from 1969 on. Nowadays the circus hosts guest shows from Moscow and elsewhere in Russia. The Kazan Circus opened its national circus school for children in 1996, which trains acrobats, jugglers, equilibrists and dancers. Four of its alumni work at Cirque du Soleil.