10 Most Impressive Life Size Mazes from Around the World3
By CT Goodson
10 Most Impressive Life Size Mazes from Around the World
Having been around for centuries in one form or another, mazes are pretty impressive. According to Greek mythology, King Minos fed young men and women to the man-eating Minotaur who resided in the center of his legendary maze. Mazes also rank right up there with pyramids when it comes to ancient architectural mystery. Egypt boasts the earliest recorded labyrinth, dating back to somewhere around the 5th century B.C. During the Middle Ages, European churches featured large inlaid floor versions of labyrinths, sometimes used by clergy as a penance for minor sins. Rather than make a distant pilgrimage in penitence for a small infraction, clergy would set the sinner to the task of negotiating the floor-sized maze on his knees. As an ancient Asian art form or an alternative to British aristocratic boredom, landscaped hedge mazes have provided entertainment in a natural interactive environment for hundreds of years.
In today’s world of instant information, game cheats and crossword puzzle answers are no longer challenging. Answers are available at the click of a button. But the ancient maze still retains its mystery. Traditional physical puzzles, like the maze, force us to think, anaylize and strategize – like David Harding of the series The Puzzle Maker’s Son, who needs to solve a slew of puzzles to discover the truth behind his father’s death.
Science fiction fans, game enthusiasts and puzzle fanatics turn to life-size mazes for a solvable challenge and a break from instant gratification. Feel up for an outdoor brain game?
The Puzzle Maker’s Son – Episode 11
1. York Maze, a Star Trek tribute – Northern Yorkshire, England
Farmer and self-proclaimed Trekky, Tom Pearcy, created a rather untraditional corn maze using 1.5 million plants and GPS satellite technology. He cut through his cornfield with laser precision to create a 32-acre tribute to Star Trek’s 40th anniversary in 2006. Pearcy claimed his creation was the first instance in which satellite technology was used to create a maze – a fitting tribute from a Star Trek fan.
2. Mirror Labyrinth at Glacier Garden (Gletschergarten) – Luzern, Switzerland
This labyrinth, originally created for the Swiss National Exhibition in 1896, is modeled after the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. With 90 mirrors set in 124 triangles, the short corridors that comprise this life-size maze look deceptively long. International travelers visiting the Gletschergarten can often be seen wandering through the maze with their hands out in front of them to avoid colliding with their own mirror image.
3. Pineapple Garden Maze, Dole Plantation – Wahiawa, Hawaii, United States
The Guinness Book of Records 2001 awarded the Dole Plantation with the title of “World’s Largest Maze” for its Pineapple Garden Maze. The 14,000 plants used to create the pineapple-shaped maze include hibiscus, croton, heliconia and yes, pineapple.
4. Toilet Paper Roll Maze – Toronto, Canada
This life-size maze was built as an art installation entitled “Walled In.” Visitors walking through the Toronto maze, made up of more than 5,000 rolls of toilet paper, are supposed to have their awareness of untreated urinary and bladder conditions elevated.
5. Cow in the Field – Marianfelde, Germany
Germany’s Federal Institute of Risk Assessment tried to kill three birds while stoned with this larger than life-size labyrinth of a cow’s digestive system. The Institute had three objectives for this project: raise awareness of healthy eating, raise awareness of the potential dangers of harmful substances in food and explain the bovine digestive system. The success of the project depends on how much fun was had in the cow’s belly, which was constructed with hemp.
6. Peace Maze, Castlewellan Forest Park – Country Down, Northern Ireland
This challenging hedge maze was designed based on the landscaping ideas of children. It is comprised of 6,000 yew trees, planted by people from all over Northern Ireland. The concept of this maze was to commemorate the peace and reconciliation efforts of Northern Ireland over the past century. This is achieved through the maze’s two clearly defined halves, which must be crossed in order to solve the maze. The Peace Bell in the center of the maze marks the solution to the maze and is likely the most frequently rung bell in Ireland with over half a million rings per year.
7. Adventure Maze, Palace of Sweets – Wildwood, New Jersey, United States
Quite possibly the finest mirror maze in the United States, this mind-bending work of Adrian Fisher is not a typical house of mirrors. It is a major attraction that features a complex series of twists and turns, constantly changing colored lights, and music. Reflections from precisely angled mirrors can trick the most experienced puzzle enthusiast. Even more confusing is the idea that the reflected vision directly in one’s path might really be another person fifteen turns ahead.
8. Villa Pisani Labirinto – Stra, Italy
This life-size maze is legendary for being one of the most complicated labyrinths in the world as well as one of the oldest labyrinths in Italy, dating back to 1720. At the center, a statue of Minerva sits atop a magnificent stone tower, which is encircled by twin spiral staircases that allow visitors to ascend and descend the tower simultaneously. Upon completion, there is the added bonus of knowingly outwitting Emperor Napoleon, who is rumored to have lost himself in Il Labirinto during the 1800’s.
9. Kimnyoung Maze Park – Jeju Island, Korea
Kimnyoung is yet another impressive bell ringing sensation. This eco-friendly maze was created by Dr. Frederic H. Dutin to pay tribute to his adopted retirement homeland. With lava-like paving stones, aromatic Leyland Cypress trees and a cedar-planked boardwalk, visitors participate in a distinct woodland experience. Only 65% of visitors actually ring the center bell to signify the completion of their travel.
10. The Great Maze, Puzzling World – Wanaka, New Zealand
This life-size maze is designed to attract puzzle solvers of all ages. However, it is designed so cleverly that most visitors are guaranteed a bit of frustration. Aside from paths that are bordered entirely by wooden panels that look identical to each other, there are towers in each corner and stairways and bridges that add a three dimensional level of complexity. Luckily, the designer, Stuart Landsborough, installed emergency doors throughout the 1.5 km of passages for those in need of help or just frustrated beyond belief.
The Puzzle Maker’s Son – Episode 12
The Puzzle Maker’s Son – Episode 13
CT Goodson is a die-hard Chicago native, temporarily transplanted to a small, northern Illinois town. When she is not working at her day job managing office chaos, she is busy managing life’s chaos from her kitchen table, which provides plenty of material for her own writing projects.