If you ask your parents what does the name Moira Orfei represent for them, you will awake memories from their childhood and listen to the stories about the circus and amusement park in Sarajevo.
Moira Orfei was a symbol of circus skill. She owned her own circus, which she led together with his husband, the lion tamer Valter Nones. It all started when Moira’s great-grandmother Veka Torović married the Montenegrin Orfei after meeting him at a show in Italy.
When a circus is traveling, it is like an entire little town is traveling. Moira Orfeir’s circus had a restaurant with four chefs, a bar where you could have an Italian drink, a mechanic workshop, hairdresser’s salon, sewing salon, classroom and teachers, and a small energy plant. Wherever they went, they brought electricity with them.
Circus content was very rich. Two circus shows with many wild animals which could later be seen in special cages were held every day.
If you ever found yourself in Italy and mentioned circus, everyone would think exactly about this circus, which often visited Sarajevo at its time.
The circus was usually located in Marijin Dvor, at the place where the hotel Holiday (former hotel Holiday Inn) is now located, prior to the construction of the hotel for the purpose of the Winter Olympic Games in 1984, and at the place of the present Unis skyscrapers known as “Momo and Uzeir”.
Moira’s circus was as elegant as a circus could be. Except for those who performed, all other members of the circus could be seen in suits.
“Circuses were later moved to the locality behind the facility of the national television and after 1984 Moira Orfei sometimes even placed the circus tents in the Sarajevo settlement Čengić Vila.
When the hotel Holiday was being built, memories of the circus have not been erased, but perpetuated in the architecture of the hotel itself.
Hotel was designed by the renowned Bosnian architect Ivan Štraus and it was built in the period from 1982 until 1983. Interior of the building loomed sometimes around the middle of 1983 and it caused many controversies because the interior of the hotel was in yellow, brown, ochre and grey color.
BBC reported that Ivan Štraus stated how the construction workers thought that it was a joke when they saw that the original model of the hotel has a yellow façade. No one expected that.
However, the hotel was truly painted in the colors of the circus tents and the lobby of the hotel was even built in the shape of a circus tent, which you can see if you visit the café in the mezzanine.
Queen of circuses in the former Yugoslavia and broader Moira Orfei passed away last year at the age of 84. Memories of her circus are still alive.