Whilst the terms Labyrinths and Mazes are often used interchangeably, they are in fact 2 different forms. A labyrinth is said to have a single through route with twists and turns but without branches, a maze is a confusing pathway that has many branches, choices of path and dead ends.
Labyrinths have only one entry and exit points whereas a maze may have multiple. Labyrinths have spiritual significance whereas mazes are more scientifically crafted to test spatial awareness and sometimes intelligence.
In Greek mythology, King Minos constructed a labyrinth with the help of craftsman Daedalus with its function to hold the Minotaur, half bull, half human. Daedalus had so cunningly made the Labyrinth that he and his son Icarus could barely escape it after he built it.
In historic Egypt, circa 1818BC Amenemhet III of the 12th Dynasty built in Lepsius to the north of Hawara in the Fayum. It was said to be about 1,000 feet long by 800 wide and contained 12 courts and 3,000 chambers. Half the chambers were above ground and half below.
If you like your labyrinths life size, you may wish to visit the top 7 which include: Derinkuyu Underground City in Turkey, Chartres Labyrinth in France, Hampton Court Palace in Herefordshire UK, Capuchin Crypt in Rome, Bara Imambara in India, Haeinsa Temple in South Korea, and the Overhanging Gardens of Marqueyssac in France.
Other places you may want to visit, (or at least look up online) include a Labyrinth inspired library at Stuttgart City Library in Germany and an amazing Chongqing Zhongshuge Bookstore in South West China.
We seem to have a fascination with labyrinths and mazes with many movies including them in some form, most notably the popular series The Maze Runner, The Cube, The Shinning, Pan’s Labyrinth and who could forget David Bowie in the movie Labyrinth.
Labyrinth patterns can be found in mandala designs in the tantric texts in India, they appear across many stages of the evolution of Celtic culture and featured in early 4th century in a Christian church in Algeria.
Today you can learn the mysteries of the Labyrinth by joining the Society. Labyrinths and mazes feature widely in the puzzle world, be it as a design element in a jigsaw, a dexterity puzzle, where you negotiate the ball bearing through the maze, through to single player adventure games such as the Mazescape series.