Although the marquee suggested that circus entrepreneur Matt Masters travelled through Europe to put his circus together (even putting the Eiffel tower on the poster), and with a $9,000,000 budget, Circus World used locations exclusively in Spain to portray places in France, Austria and Germany.

The tent city that supposedly stands in New York at the beginning of the film is, in fact, the Madrid industrial area Vicálvaro...

...which today looks like that.

When showman Matt Masters supposedly rides a stagecoach down the Champs-Elysées, John Wayne is on the Parkway in the Retiro Park, Madrid’s recreational area. 

The same street today.  The park belonged to the Spanish Monarchy until the late 19th century, when it became a public park.

The six-up running wild is stopped...

...at the roundabout of the Fuente de la Alcahofa in the Parque del Retiro. 

During the chase, a cutaway shows "French" gendarmes (actually running in the wrong direction), passing this marble statue...

...which is the Estatua de Hércules: Hercules fighting a lion. 

The artificial lake in the middle of the Retiro park was drained so the big circus set for the acrobatic climax of the movie could be built, allowing the stage to actually go over the water’s edge. 

That's the magnificent Alfons XII. Monument at Plaza Maestro Villa which is in the background of the finale.

When the movie introduces us to the Wintergarten Berlin (destroyed in a bomb raid in 1944), we are actually looking at the...

...majestic Velázquez Palace, still in the Parque del Retiro.

The same is true for the Hamburg Hansa circus at the turn of the century which is...

... the famous Palacio de Cristal, still in Madrid's El Retiro. 

However, the inside scenes of the Hamburg Hansa circus were actually filmed in Barcelona. It’s the Gran Teatre del Liceu, the world-famous opera house on La Rambla 51-59, dating from 1847. Even though the Liceu had to be rebuild after a fire (it was restored and reopened in 1999), Wayne fans will immediately recognize the superb interior: From one of the plush theater boxes, Wayne and Cardinale watched the lion tamer. 

The steamer sinks in the harbor of Barcelona. The sequence took place in the old part of the harbor, on the Moll de Bosch

The departure of the steamer in New York was shot at the same Barcelona seafront. The beautiful old Customs building also appears in the background...

...of the scene when Claudia Cardinale finds that Wayne still has the picture of her mother.

Bronston had ensured that filming in the world-famous bullfighting in Chinchón was possible. In the Plaza Mayor, ringmaster John Wayne rides a cavalry charge against the Indians. 

The Plaza with its typical Castile balcony rails and galleries is considered one of the most beautiful in the country.

Wayne pursuits Rita Hayworth...

...under the main grandstand...

...and gives a pep talk to Claudia Cardinale at the...

...main entrance to the bullfight ring before he...

...spots Rita Hayworth behind the scenes, in a little plaza behind the bullring... 

...which is unchanged, including the corner stone with the inscription reading "1925".

 Movie fans must not miss the opportunity to see the Cuevas del Vino at Calle Benito Hortelano 13 in  Chinchón. In the extensive wine cellars, visiting movie stars are always asked to sign the massive wine jugs. 

In this rustic dining rooms, Wayne and Rita Hayworth played the scene of their bitter reunion.

According to the dialogue, the Matt Masters Circus is winterquartering in Madrid. However, they chose Toledo for these scenes where Wayne and his trusty aid, Lloyd Nolan, inspect the progress...

...in the Parque de Safont, with the Alcazar of Toledo looming in the background. This stone fortification became a symbol of resistance during the Spanish civil war. Exact same place today.

In the reverse shot, Wayne and Nolan walk towards a building at the Tajo River (the mill wheel was added in a matte shot)...

...and this is what the winterquarters of the "Matt Masters Circus" still look today: actually three buildings, looking like one when shot from the front. 

Also shot in the Parque de Safont: the scene of celebration as the new tent arrives. The romantic-looking wall was surrounding the park... 

...and is today reduced to this portion. Parts of the wall were filled in with different bricks. But the original entrance is still visible (photo shows the reverse). 

During the filming in Toledo, the production used rooms in the Hotel Carlos V. as dressing rooms. Today, four rooms are devoted to the stars of the film and its director, Henry Hathaway. 

Only recently published: the story of a local, at the time of filming 14 years old. When he saw John Wayne standing outside the Hotel Carlos V. having a smoke by himself, the young fan approached him for an autograph. To which the star responded in his usual down-to-earth manner: "Sure, kid, hold my cigarette."  

The town of Aranjuez was the location for the big climax. This photo shows the angle they used for this establishing shot of, supposedly, Vienna...

...and it looks nothing like the "Prater Gardens", as the circus advertisment suggests...

...but is actually the Plaza de Parejas, in front of the Palacio Real,  summer residence of the Spanish kings.

While Wayne's scene checking the damage after the desaster was in fact shot on the very Plaza de Parejas itself... 

...the circus actually went up in flames outside the courtyard...

...as this shot shows: The "evil clown", Richard Conte, watches the reunion of mother and daugher from here, looking towards the lawn where the tent was standing.

The stuntmen and -women performed...

...in front of the Palacio Real. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Interiors were shot at the Samuel Bronston Studios, originally the Estudios de Chamartin de la Rosa, at the Avenida de Burgos, in Madrid. After Bronston went broke, the facilities became a TV studio. A few years ago, the mythical studios were finally razed to make way for luxury apartments. 

 

Another story that is well-rememberd by locals in Madrid: Wayne wanted to check out how he was dubbed in Spanish. So he sat into a movietheatre at the Gran Via (shown in the picture is one of the oldest moviehouses at the "Broadway of Madrid") where his latest picture was showing. Needless to say, he was soon recognized and the projectonist had to stop the film. Wayne stood up and took a bow.