This immense home of the Bulgarian Communist Party had been open for only eight years before being abandoned in 1989 after the fall of the Iron Curtain.The Bulgarian government promptly moved on and left the colossal monument to the fallen regime crumbling in the face of time.
Many in the new government want the building restored, but at a cost of nearly $20 million there is little chance that effort will come to pass, regardless of the tourists it may draw.
Richter titled the following slides himself to take BI Military & defence readers on a personal tour of what he saw.
The House-Monument of the Bulgarian Communist Party sits on the peak of Mount Buzludzha, visible even from the main road that passes the south side of the mountains 20km away
On reaching the peak, I came across the stone courtyard where the party faithful would have gathered for rallies. The decaying husks on either side had once been striking effigies of flames, flanking the approach to the monument.
Emblazoned around the entrance I saw the remains of rousing socialist messages - appealing to the oppressed workers to rise up, and claim the country that was theirs by right of birth
A later addition to the script that adorns the Buzludzha monument, 'FORGET YOUR PAST' has been scrawled above the entrance in large red letters. A reference, perhaps, to the sense of embarrassment that many young Bulgarians feel when confronted with the relics of their country's Communist years.
The main conference chamber at Buzludzha is surrounded by colourful murals and mosaics - featuring the faces of Engels, Marx and Lenin along with scenes of battles and harvests. The ceiling is dominated by a hammer and sickle rendered in painted metal plate. When I visited in the early spring, a thick layer of ice had formed in the centre of the arena, giving it the appearance of an otherworldly ice rink.
On the wall opposite Engels, Marx and Lenin, behind the tiered seating, appear the faces of a Bulgarian socialist philosopher, the first President of the Bulgarian Communist Party, and also their final President - who reportedly had his likeness removed in 1991, to distance himself from the failing Soviet movement.
From here I made my way out into the passage which surrounds the monument - its murals fading and windows long gone, still this walkway offers a superb, panoramic view from the very peak of Mount Buzludzha
A typical mural, I found this one on the circular outer passage - depicting Bulgarian women nursing their children, against a backdrop of bountiful harvests
Looking closer at the mural set into the ceiling, I was able to see the extent of the decay - and even as I watched, I saw another metal plate fall from the ceiling, crashing to the ground dangerously close to where I stood
Entry to the monument had been treacherous, but getting back out was even worse; the concrete staircases coated in deep, compacted layers of ice and snow
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.