Amazing Mazes

Getting lost in a cornfield maze is an October tradition for many families. Aside from tall fields of corn, mazes can be made with stone walls, hedges, mirrors, and more. Finding your way out of the puzzle can be a heck of a good time, and mazes have a lot of history behind them, too.

About 2,500 years ago, the Egyptian Labyrinth, located just across from the City of Crocodiles, had several floors. Temples, palaces, and banquet halls were all a part of it. Tombs of kings and sacred crocodiles were buried on the bottom level.

The Romans constructed mazes as part of their homes, often made out of a stone pattern called a mosaic. The Roman Empire spread throughout much of Europe and the Near East, and these patterns are still found by archaeologists on their digs. You can create your own version of a Roman maze by following these instructions.

When visiting colonial Williamsburg, try out the maze at the Governor’s Palace. This kind of hedge maze is a custom brought over from Europe. The Virginia Renaissance Festival, located at Lake Anna Winery in Spotsylvania, has built a turf maze.

A Famous Labyrinth

A maze inside a castleAccording to Greek legends, a long time ago a king had a monster to hide. So he called in the cleverest craftsmen he could find to build a labyrinth to be its prison. This bull-headed monster, called a minotaur, was so terrible he devoured human flesh for his food. Young men and women would be sent to the labyrinth and never return. You can find the complete story of the minotaur and the hero who defeated him in the library. These retellings are especially well done: The Hero and the Minotaur: The Fantastic Adventures of Theseus and Theseus and the Minotaur retold by Warwick Hutton.

Mazes and labyrinths are popular throughout the world. Ordinary people would tread mazes cut into turf, and rich folk would create hedge mazes to entertain their guests.

Here are some mazes and labyrinths that you and your family can visit in our area. They may not have monsters or crocodiles, but they will give you a fun adventure:

Cows-N-Corn in Fauquier County

The Garden Maze at Luray Caverns

The Maize Maze at Belvedere Plantation

The Maze at the Governor’s Palace in Colonial Williamsburg

Washington National Cathedral: The Labyrinth

When Is a Maze Not a Maze?

Technically speaking, a maze without dead-end walls is called a labyrinth—not a maze. A unicursal labyrinth has only one path. It may twist and turn quite a bit, but there is only one way to go. A lot of older cathedrals and some modern churches placed labyrinths on their floors so that people could walk them as they prayed. Rich people would also create labyrinths out of stone walkways and hedge paths, often just for fun. Today, mazes and labyrinths are still being built in gardens, parks, and cornfields.

Get Lost in These A-Mazing Books from the Library

The Clue in the Corn Maze by Gertrude Chandler Warner
The Aldens find themselves right in the middle of an Iowa cornfield and a brand-new mystery! The children visit a farm that's famous for its wonderful corn maze. Every year the maze is open to visitors, and there's even a festival! But who is damaging the maze at night? Can the Boxcar Children catch the culprit and save the festival?

The Maze by Peter David
A witty young Raptor, Booj, teams up with Jason and Gwen to search for the legendary Odon, a Raptor who long ago became a recluse. To find him, the three friends must survive the dangerous traps of Odon's underground maze. No matter the challenge, they must succeed, because only Odon has the cure for the mysterious disease that has afflicted Gwen's father.

Monumental Mazes by Richard Burnie
This fun and puzzling book lets readers figure out lots of mazes based on historic places around the world.

The Mystery of the Monkey’s Maze by Doug Cushman
The great detective Seymour Sleuth and his photographer Muggs travel to Borneo to help find the legendary Black Flower of Sumatra, a possible cure for the hiccups.