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6 German mazes that will leave you stumped

6 German mazes that will leave you stumped

Looking to lose yourself somewhere less depressing than the drop-down menus of the local Ausländerbehörde website? Germany’s hedge and corn mazes are calling your name.

Hedge mazes in Germany

Hedge mazes, which are directed by tall hedges as opposed to the lower shrubs or floor tiling which direct a labyrinth, have their origins in Renaissance Europe.

Since plans to create the first tall hedge maze with climbing plants at Palazzo del Te, Mantua were abandoned in the 1530s, it is thought that a hedge maze designed in 1576 by German priest Johann Peschel was the first of its kind.

While the maze Peschel designed for Caspar von Kutzleben at Schloss Grüningen in Thuringia no longer stands, Germany boasts over 50 mazes (Irrgärten, literally "err", "mad" or "stray" gardens). These ones are worth a visit!

1. Irrgarten Altjessnitz

With the first version of its hedge maze built in 1699, Irrgarten Altjessnitz in Saxony-Anhalt is one of the oldest mazes in Germany. Like at Schloss Grüningen, the original maze was designed by Peschel but only realised after his death. Sadly, following a fire at the grounds in 1946, parts of the existing layout vary considerably from the original design.

Stretching over four hectares, the Irrgarten at Gutspark Altjeßnitz is the largest baroque maze in Germany.

2. Irrgarten Alfsee

Irrgarten Alfsee is Germany’s largest maze, which lies at the centre of Alfsee activity park in Lower Saxony. For just 8,50 euros a head, visitors can enter the maze, puzzle over the seven additional riddles found between the bushes, and enjoy the rest of the park afterwards!

Once you’ve made it to the maze’s centre, enjoy the satisfaction of a Renaissance aristocrat watching their bewildered drunken guests from a drawing room above, by observing your fellow maze wanderers from the bridge which doubles as the exit. Keep the clues to yourself!

3. Labyrinth Drieländereck Vaalserberg

The Drieländereck ("three country point") maze is technically in the Netherlands but lies at the axis where the Netherlands meets Belgium and the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Labyrinth Drieländereck is made with hornbeam trees and no fewer than 17.000 high hedges, and was developed by British landscape architect Adrian Fisher, generally considered to be the world’s most prolific maze designer.

A pattern of lions and eagles has been integrated into the design of the paths. On your journey to the middle, you can find three bridges. On average it takes 30 to 45 minutes to find the centre, where a lookout post lets you admire the design from above and look out over all three countries at once.

If you find your way to the centre of the Drielandenpunt maze and are hungry to experience more of Fisher's maze designs, you’re in luck: the architect has designed over 700 mazes over his career, including the Dungeon Mirror Maze in Hamburg, the Beatles Maze in Liverpool and the 10 mazes at Castle Loucen in Czechia.

4. Gärten der Welt Maze Berlin

The layout of the maze at Gärten der Welt in Berlin is based on that of Hampton Court Palace Maze, the oldest maze in Europe that still stands.

Made up of around 1.225, two-metre-high evergreen yew trees, like those at the Alfsee and Vaalsberg mazes, Gärten der Welt’s maze rewards successful visitors with a central vantage point. But this maze has no convenient bridge exit, you’ll have to find your way out again too! You could Hansel and Gretel it?

Once you’ve found your way out, Gärten der Welt has many other attractions which make the seven-euro entry fee well worth it. See the gardens of Brazil, Korea, Australia and Italy in one day. Don’t forget to stop and smell the rose garden!

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Image credit: pixelshop / Shutterstock.com

5. Maislabyrinth Liederbach

Now for the wackier mazes. If you love a jump scare, a demure but unsettling matron, the distant distress calls of a gaunt child or any other archetypal horror film thrills, then the Maislabyrinth Liederbach will scratch your itch.

The 35.000-square-metre maize labyrinth in Liederbach, Hesse, is open all year round, but of course, the most apt night of the year to visit is Halloween. Pay between 25,00 and 44,00 euros to be chased through the maze by Liederbach’s ensemble of creepy clowns, grim reapers and decapitated aristocrats. They claim it is “more fun than fear”.

If 40-ish euros sounds too steep for a chase and a little party afterwards, Liederbach also accepts applications for the chased to become the chaser. Halloween lovers and aspiring actors alike can join the “Halloween Crew” of harmless sadists. 

6. Hanflabyrinth Wetterau (Halawe)

The Hanflabyrinth Wetterau in Butzbach, Hesse, sits in a 24.000-square-metre field of hemp which stretches overhead to conceal a six-kilometre maze trail. Planted in mid-May, the hemp maze is best visited in the latter part of the summer, when the plants are between three and four metres tall. Once you’ve found your way out you can visit the Hanf-Point shop to pick up CBD oils or even some hemp pesto.

The Hanflabyrinth Wetterau may not be as preened and regal as Irrgarten Altjessnitz or Gärten der Welt’s maze, but if you indulge and bring your Bubatz to Butzbach, you might get more lost than you’ve ever been.

Lose yourself in Germany’s mazes!

Sprawling, compact, hedged, fenced, floral, regal and terrifying, there is a German maze wacky enough for everyone. Which would you recommend to fellow maze lovers? Let us know in the comments below!

Thumb image credit: vitmore / Shutterstock.com

Olivia Logan

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Olivia Logan

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