Courtesy Dr. Julie E. Bounford
The world’s hardest maze
Mazes resonate with us because they can represent life’s twists and turns, explains Julie E. Bounford, PhD, the author of The Curious History of Mazes. “The process of getting lost in a maze is transformative, allowing for self-discovery at each turn and fulfillment as we find our way,” she says. Her book is an anthology of some of the world’s most fascinating mazes. Bounford also traces the 4,000-year history of these captivating paths and labyrinths. (Check out some of the world’s most incredible mazes.)
Bounford lists the most fascinating mazes on the planet, whether they’re found in books, on sand, in mosaics, or in fields and gardens. For example, “Arthur Deacon’s Turtle Labyrinth” (on pages 45 and 46 in the book) challenges you to use your finger to traverse a circuitous route “using one uninterrupted line,” or you could be “devoured by a ghost.”
“Mazes are for those who want to tune in to their innate sense of curiosity, to meditate, learn, and reconnect with their sense of fun,” Bounford tells Reader’s Digest. They require you to engage both the logical and creative sides of your brain—an act that can lead to meditative joy, she says.
If that’s true, the most challenging mazes should bring about the greatest joy, right? We asked Bounford to point out the most challenging maze in her book. Among the possibilities are the Turtle Labyrinth (mentioned earlier) and the “Mandala Maze.” But Bounford believes the “Peace Maze” takes the prize, and it’s pictured above. The original version is a shrubbery maze planted in Castlewellan, Northern Ireland. Here’s what Bounford has to say about it: “It symbolizes the road to peace, the most challenging walk of all.”
When you reach the centre of the actual Peace Maze, you’ll find a bell you can ring—it’s said to be one of the most frequently rung bells in Ireland. Next, check out these puzzles that only smart people can solve. And if that’s too easy for you, try what an MIT professor called “the hardest logic puzzle ever.”