Mazes and labyrinths are more part and parcel of our culture than people realise. Their roots can be traced back to Greek mythology and Paganism, where they were regarded as mystical. It wasn’t until a few hundred years ago that mazes were designed for fun (sadists), and often became a perfect meeting place for secret lovers and cunning planners. Over time they have become associated with entrapment and enclosure as our imaginations run wild.
We’ve found some of the world’s largest, craziest and highest mazes so you can loose yourself in the great tangled weave of the web for a while. They’re simply quite a-maze-ing.
1. Ashcombe Maze pictured here is found on Australia’s Mornington Peninsula, near Melbourne. It’s Australia’s largest and oldest maze and measures three meters high by two meters wide. The gardens also boast the world’s oldest rose maze, which blooms 217 varieties of roses on 1,200 bushes.
2. Richardson Farm in Illinois has become something of a fixture in the maze-making stakes. Every year they create a new maze just before the harvest and allow the general public to come and enjoy getting lost in nature. This Aztec style face was one of the smaller mazes mowed out a few years ago.
3. Fancy a game of snakes and ladders? It might take a while, though. This maze was lovingly created by Michael Blee of Gore Farm, Upchurch in Kent. The hedges are a whopping 9ft tall and meander over 6 acres of land. Mr Blee hopes the giant game makes it into the Guinness Book of Records.
4. Ever wanted to get locked in an enchanted castle and wait for your Prince Charming to come? Well, now’s your chance. The castle is one of the 2008 mazes on Richardson Farm, but it closes at the end of October so you only have a few days for your knight in shining armour to whisk you away to pastures new. A labyrinth, like this castle, has one way in and one way out so you have to follow a certain route to escape. Mazes can have multiple entrances and exits with lots of dead ends, so can be much more confusing.
5. Officially the world’s largest maze, according to the Guinness Book of Records 2001, the Pineapple Garden Maze offers over three miles of paths on three acres. You really wouldn’t want to get lost. It is located in Waimea Bay, Hawaii at Dole Plantation and certainly looks scary from the air.
6. Once one of the world’s largest plant mazes, this circular creation covers 10 acres of land at Reignac-sur-Indre in Touraine, France. It too is reaped every year and grows back in a different form as a result of careful design, planning and farming.
7. This corn maze challenge is part of Cherry Crest Adventure Farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Get lost in 2.5 miles of trails over five acres, but don’t worry, it’s difficult to get lost in this one – there are maze masters on hand to help out should you find yourself being consumed by it all. As long as you keep images of Children of the Corn out of your head, you’ll be fine. Maybe.
8. The English have always loved elaborate mazes and one of their most famous can be found within the grounds of the majestic Hampton Court Palace, not far from London. The maze was planted in the late 1600s for King William of Orange and covers an area of 60 acres. Only a small section is shown here. The palace itself dates back to the time of King Henry VIII in the early 1500s and remains in excellent condition.
9. The Georgeson Botanical Garden in Fairbanks, Alaska is officially a maze, and is still a work in progress, even after seven years. This photograph shows only three petals completed but since the image was taken the other petals have been planted.
10. The maze at Villa Pisani, in the Veneto region of Italy, was created in the early 1700s, and is said to be once of the world’s most complicated. Located in the town of Stra, the maze is made up of layers of pathways in 12 concentric rings with high hedges leading to a central tower. Famously, because Napoleon had once been lost in the maze, when Hitler and Mussolini met for a chin wag there, neither of them were willing to venture into the maze in case they too got lost. Imagine the path of history then.