The words "labyrinth" and "maze" are often used interchangeably. They certainly seem similar, as a path from edge to center is cut into the turf, wound through hedgerows or mowed into a cornfield, but a true labyrinth is spiritual in nature and a maze is for amusement.
The labyrinth has its roots in Greek mythology. Legend has it that Daedalus built one for King Minos to contain the ferocious half-man, half-bull Minotaur. The path was so complex that Minos locked Daedealus in a tower to keep him from ever revealing its solution. Not much is known about how labyrinths were used in Greece, but they are well documented throughout France and Italy where they were built into tiles or carved into cathedral floors. The winding path from entrance toward the center symbolizes life or the Christian journey. You can't get lost in a labyrinth. You walk it slowly—barefoot to ground if desired—to calm the mind and spirit.
Mazes, on the other hand, have been delightfully perplexing people for hundreds of years. They are puzzles to be solved and are full of wrong turns and dead ends. Sometimes they contain clues to help walkers finder their way. Mazes were widely popular in English formal gardens throughout the 18th century and some mazes in Europe, such as the Hampton Court hedge maze, are still in existence today.
Here are some of the prettiest and most-perplexing mazes and labyrinths that are open to the public.