Traditional labyrinths are representations of a twisting turning path, often allegorical, whilst many modern mazes are a puzzle to be enjoyed whilst a solution is sought.
Labyrinths have existed since Ancient Egypt. A "labyrinth" (unlike a generic "maze") is unicursal, there being but one path to centre, twisting round and wrapping in on itself, but without side passages or dead ends.
During the Medieval period, the unicursal labyrinth, sometimes took on Christian meanings, the winding path around the four points of a cross (differing from a classical labyrinth of earlier periods.), being symbolic of a pilgrims journey, both in the temporal and spiritual worlds.
In the 16th century, hedge mazes developed from knot gardens, and whilst many early hedge mazes were also single pathed, it is from these that multicursal puzzle mazes in a more contemporary form began to emerge.
In the modern era, there have been attraction mazes created for the amusement and bemusement of the traveller all over the world, many having professional designers who have come up with ever more devious solutions for a visitor to find.
Historical labyrinths, modern recreations and portrayals in art
Archaeological sites and recreations
- Stone labyrinths of Bolshoi Zayatsky Island, Solovetsky Islands in Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia.
- Sweden has a number of Tory town Labyrinths, made from stones laid out in free field.
- The Palace of Knossos in Heraklion, Crete, was the centre of Minoan culture, and its cellars have been linked to the legend of the labyrinth that held the Minotaur. But it's a fanciful link and anyone who finds these cellars labyrinthine had best not venture down into the basement of their local City Council or hospital.
Labyrinths in architecture and art
- Chartres Cathedral has a floor Labyrinth.
- Basilica of Saint-Quentin, Aisne, France - Floor labyrinth
- Cathedral of Amiens, France
- 1 Wing maze, Glaston Road, Wing, Rutland Water. One of the few remaining turf mazes in the United Kingdom.
- 2 Julian's Bower is a generic name for English turf mazes (the supposed derivation of the term is more convoluted than the maze itself), but this one at Alkborough north of Scunthorpe in Lincolnshire is the only survivor still bearing that name.
- Hampton Court in Richmond has one of the oldest Hedge Mazes. It's not that hard to solve.
- Hever Castle, near Sevenoaks has three mazes, one of which is a traditional Hedge Maze. The others are paved maze, surrounded by water, and a "fun" maze for children.
- Leeds Castle near Maidstone - Hedge maze, and an underground surprise as an exit!
- Herbfarm, Sonning Common, Berks. - A hedge maze with a difference in that it's planted sensitively in beech. The design incorporates specimen plants of four vital Saxon herbs at key location in the maze.
- The Marlborough Maze at Blenheim Palace near Woodstock (Oxfordshire) is a large yew hedge maze.
- Longleat Maze- Considered to be one of the largest hedge maze in Britan, this maze represents a real challange.
- 3 Schönbusch Park, Kleine Schönbuschallee 1, Aschaffenburg, ☏ . Landscape park. Good sized maze (Irrgarten), outside is observation platform to watch people getting lost inside. Free.
United States of America
- Dole Plantation Pineapple Garden Maze, 64-1550 Kamehameha Hwy, Wahiawa, Central Oahu, Hawaii (about 3 mi/5 km N of Wahiawa on Hwy 99, 1 mi/1.6 km N of the jct. with Hwy 80; H-2 north to its end, then continue on Hwy 99, approx 40 min from Waikiki), ☏ . 9AM-5PM daily. Using a rather different kind of hedge, Dole Plantation's Pineapple Garden Maze was recognized in the 2001 Guinness Book of World Records as the world's largest maze. $5; $3 for children. Discounts available for U.S. military and Hawaii residents.
Corn (maize) mazes
A labyrinth or hedgerow made out of a corn/maize field, or some other kind of tall growing grain. There are two main methods for creating a corn maze: growing it from the ground up using special seeding techniques plotted out from a GPS-linked grid map, or to cut the maze pattern through a regular field of corn.
As these are seasonal, locations will vary annually; check local media and websites close to a destination, to find them.
Mazes made with other materials
- The Minatour Maze, Kielder Castle Visitor Centre, Kielder, Northumberland, NE48 1ER.. 11.00am - 4.00pm. This stone built maze inspired by the ancient legend, is in the grounds of one of the Visitor centres for Kielder Forest Park.
- The riverside park in Marlow (England), England, has a paved logic maze, where some paths in an otherwise conventional maze are one-way, another complication for a traveller trying to solve it.
Houses of mirrors
In addition to the permanent attractions below, the mirror maze (also called a House of Mirrors) is an attraction that will occasionally appear in travelling fairs and shows in North America, and Europe, The quality of these temporary mazes varies.
- Větruše hill, Ústí nad Labem, a mirror labyrinth.
- Magical Mirror Maze This mirror maze is part of the Wookey Hole attraction complex.
- Magowan's Infinate Mirror Maze, San Francisco. - A mirror maze enhanced by black-light effects.
- Odysea Mirror Maze, Scottsdale, Arizona. - You seek a butterfly? Then enter a virtual jungle, with lights and sounds as you take a path that leads everywhere and nowhere. This attraction maze is not however recommended for children under 5, due to the effects used. A companion attraction in the same location, uses "lasers", to present a maze-like challenge of a different kind.
Königsberg - Not strictly a maze, but known for the Seven Bridge Puzzle.