5. Samsø Labyrinten (Denmark)
This maze is just on a different scale to the others. Where most mazes use hedges, this uses fully-grown trees and wide paths so it feels more like a wander through the forest than being trapped in a maze. But it is undoubtedly a maze, with the Temple as the target in the middle. It’s 60,000m2 and once held the title of “World’s largest permanent maze” in the Guinness Book of Records. It contains a number of features to look out for along the way, including a tribute to Danish author Hans Christian Anderson.
Formerly a Christmas tree forest, the labyrinth was designed in 2000 by Erik and Karen Poulsen and is unusual in that it was carved out of existing woodland, rather than planted. JCBs were used to clear pathways through the forest and make a central space for the Temple. It’s a different kind of maze, but it’s still possible to get completely lost in it, thanks to the massive trees that block your view from every side.
4. Peace Maze (Northern Ireland, UK)
The maze that took Samsø’s title of “world’s largest permanent maze” was the Peace Maze in County Down, Northern Ireland, which opened in 2001. It was designed to resemble a peace symbol, an important one for a country troubled by internal strife for large portions of the twentieth century. The Belfast Agreement in 1998 effectively brought an end to “The Troubles”, but there was a lot of damage to be repaired and the maze symbolizes hope and peace, with the 6,000 yew trees being chosen for their longevity. In the center of the maze is the Peace Bell, which is rung to signify the completion of the maze.
For a short time, the 3,147 meters of path were the longest in the world, but the title was handed over again in 2007. It remains the 2nd largest permanent maze in the world.
3. Pineapple Garden Maze (Hawaii)
And here’s the current holder of that sought-after title. The Pineapple Garden Maze was built in 1997, on the Dole pineapple plantation, but only became the longest in the world after it expanded in 2007. It has 3,962m of path, comfortably beating the Peace Maze, and the centerpiece is a giant pineapple. 8 secret stations dotted throughout the maze help you to unravel a mystery at the middle, and the maze contains 14,000 Hawaiian plants.
While at the Dole Plantation, you can also take a ride on the Pineapple Express, not to be confused with the Seth Rogen film of the same name. That concerns an entirely different kind of plantation. It’s actually a 20-minute ride in a red-and-yellow train where you can learn all the about the history of pineapple. Who would want to miss that?
2. Cool Patch Pumpkins Maze (USA)
So, those are the largest permanent mazes, what about one that changes every year? Described as “The Coolest Maze on the Planet” (albeit by their own website), the Cool Patch Pumpkins Maze is different every time it opens for the season, and has won the title of “Largest maze, temporary corn/crop maze” in the Guinness Book of Records several times. Starting as a 15-acre corn maze in 2003, it had grown to 45 acres by 2011 and last year was an impressive 53 acres. It used to be a marketing tool for selling pumpkins, but has become a tourist attraction in its own right, although they still sell a lot of pumpkins because of it.
As you might expect, it’s fiendishly complicated and one visitor recorded that it took 2 hours and 10 cell phone calls to get through it. And naturally, it gets more complicated every year. The pumpkin patch maze can be found in Dixon, CA not far from Sacramento and it’s worth a visit to see what they come up with in 2013!
1. The Labyrinth at Knossos
Top of our list is a maze that is sadly not a tourist attraction, but it is legendary for its complexity. Built for King Minos of Crete, in the Palace of Knossos (above), the legend goes that the fiendish labyrinth contained an equally fiendish creature – the Minotaur. This half man, half bull was raised by Minos’ wife Pasiphaë but became too fearsome for civilized company, and craftsman Daedalus constructed a labyrinth so complex that the Minotaur would never be able to get out – in fact, Daedalus himself had trouble getting out of it after construction.
Eventually the labyrinth was conquered by heroic Theseus, with some help from Minos’ daughter Ariadne, and there has been no trace of it found in the ruins at Knossos. If it still existed, however, it would certainly be the most complicated maze in the world.