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a collapsible structure designed for traveling circus shows. A big top is usually a dome-shaped canvas tent stretched over tall center poles and side poles by means of various fastenings; inside the tent are stands for spectators, room for equipment, and a backstage area. Big tops originated in the 1830’s at the Cirque d’Eté on the Champs Elysées in Paris. They became widely popular in the USA and later in other countries. The first one in Russia was constructed in Moscow, in Neskuchnyi Sad in 1830.
The big top was the main circus structure in prerevolutionary provincial Russia, and traveling circuses with big tops of various types are practically the only form of circus in all the capitalist countries. In the USSR, a vast network of tent circuses is operated simultaneously with numerous permanent circuses.