Since the ancient Cretans and Egyptians first created labyrinths, these mazes have fascinated travelers around the world. Forget your maps and GPS, and have fun getting lost within.
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Borges Labyrinth, Venice, Italy
Just about everyone enjoys getting lost in the alleyways of picturesque Venice, but just outside of the city limits in Stra, visitors can do it in a much more structured way. Here you’ll find the labryinth of the Villa Pisani, constructed in 1720 – and, it has a reputation for being the most challenging on the planet to solve. In fact, Napoleon himself was said to be floored by its difficulty. The maze is a classic medieval circular path with nine concentric repeating patterns and many dead ends that surround a small tower in the center. It was designed by Girolamo Frigimelica as part of the magnificent landscaped grounds which surround the 114 room villa which was built 15 years later. The challenge comes from the hedges, which are so high that it is impossible to see over once you have entered. A statue of Minerva, goddess of wisdom and arts, holds court from the top of the central tower which can be accessed via a double spiral staircase for an incredible view of the palazzo overlooking a canal once you’ve worked your way through to the center.
Andrassy Castle maze, Tiszadob, Hungary
One of North-East Hungary’s most impressive structures is Andrassy Castle. Sitting in the village of Tiszadob along the Tisza River near the Hungarian-Slovakian border, it was built in the late 19th century upon the order of Count Gyula Andrass, the first Hungarian prime minster and second Foreign Minister of Austria-Hungary. The spectacular surrounding park was created at the same time, and features one of the world’s most spectacular mazes, with the hedges interweaving in the unique design of a squid. While it arguably looks most stunning from above, it offers plenty of mind-bending curves and turns to delight visitors.
Dole Plantation Maze, Oahu, Hawaii
This fruit inspired maze boasts almost two-and-a-half miles of paths that were created from 14,000 colorful Hawaiian plants, like hibiscus, heliconia and pineapples all centered around a massive pineapple made of croton. The fragrantly fruity maze sits along the north shore of Oahu and has been awarded a Guinness World Record as the world’s largest. Unlike most puzzle pathways, in which discovering the solution is your reward, this one actually promises prizes to the fastest finishers, who also get their names emblazoned for posterity at the entrance of the maze. So far, the record time for solving it stands at seven minutes – impressive considering the average visitor takes closer to an hour to complete the challenge.
Schonbrunn Palace maze, Vienna, Austria
Schonbrunn Palace is one of Vienna’s most beloved tourist attractions, and a must-see for anyone visiting the Austrian capital. It was the summer residence of the Austrian royal family, and has a rich history along with breathtaking gardens that boast an impressive maze with symmetry that is absolutely jaw-dropping. Planted in the late 1990s in homage to the earlier Schonnbrunn maze that once stood in its place, the history and splendor of the angles make it one of the world’s best, spread across nearly 18,500 square feet. It’s fun for young and old alike, offering an array of activities along with the challenge of making your way through the winding labyrinth.
Cockington Green Gardens Maze, Canberra, Australia
The expansive outdoor exhibit in Canberra is unique in that it transports visitors to a variety of locations around the world, with its meticulously crafted miniature buildings representing a multitude of popular landmarks set within gorgeous landscaped gardens and a maze of hedges. The park is continuously expanding with the popular addition of the International display area, which compliments the original English Village. While here, you can also visit the Rose Room indoor exhibition, featuring “Waverley” a 34 room Doll House, sip coffee in the Parsons Nose Garden Cafe or enjoy picnics in the park – if you’ve got little ones with you, they can enjoy the playground as well as the popular Miniature Steam Train ride, which encircles the International Display. Created by Doug & Brenda Sarah Cockington, Green Gardens is a family-owned and operated attraction that’s been open for nearly four decades.
Peace Maze, Castlewellan, Northern Ireland
Located in a breathtaking setting of mountains and sea, the Peace Maze is part of one of the most impressive tree and shrub collections in all of Europe, with its striking beauty and perfect shape of the trees in the National Arboretum attracting tree enthusiasts from all corners of the globe. The 2.7-acre Peace Maze is one of the largest permanent mazes on the planet – and, it also has one of the most interesting histories as it was planted nearly 20 years ago in order to celebrate the signing of the Good Friday agreement and the end of Northern Ireland’s “Troubles.” The hedge height is a little lower than most mazes, in order to encourage more interaction. It has two halves, and completing it requires crossing both. Those who finish are encouraged to ring the “Peace Bell” in the center.
While you’re here, you can visit a mile-long lake, one of the region’s most famous, a grand Victorian Castle, awe-inspiring panoramic views, scenic walking trails, an activity center and Nature Play Area.
Hampton Court Maze, East Molesey, United Kingdom
One of the oldest mazes in the United Kingdom, this labyrinth was created for William III’s fancy in the 17th century. The garden maze even manages to rival the grandeur of the palace it fronts, much of its original design has been retained in all of its glory. Originally planted using hornbeam, and later replanted using yew, it covers a third of an acre and has a trapezoid shape. The Maze itself is referred to as a puzzle maze, and is renowned for both intriguing and confusing visitors with its many twists, turns and dead ends. While it isn’t nearly as large as modern-day mazes, it still provides a challenge and remains an important historical structure. The original design has since been modified due to gaps in the hedge, offering more ways to the center and more wrong turns, some of them ending in loops, and sits within 60 acres of riverside gardens.
Glendurgan Garden Maze, Monwan, Cornwall, United Kingdom
Glendurgan Garden is a National Trust garden located above the hamlet of Durgan on the Helford River in Mawnan, Cornwall. The garden was laid out by Alfred Fox in the 1820s and ’30s, and in 1962, it was given to the National Trust by Cuthbert and Philip Fox. With so many children to entertain, the Fox family decided upon its creation to plant an extensive maze as well as a rotating rope swing in 1833. Today, the garden is best-known for its cherry laurel maze. Planted on one side of the valley, the living puzzle is in the heart of the garden, and while many are most excited about reaching the middle of the maze, others simply enjoy the pleasure and sitting opposite it and watching others experience the frustration and confusion, before finally celebrating its end, if they’re able to complete it. It was planted with cherry laurel, which is why it’s been so vigorous and tough, allowing it to withstand both regular trimming and footsteps around its roots. Palm trees mark the four corners of the puzzle and a thatched summerhouse sits in the center.