Denise Chen - Nov 11, 2013

Nothing is exciting like exploring unfamiliar terrains. Though advancements in technology have changed things, we can still explore mysterious and stunning features all over the world. Explore the top seven labyrinths out there. Brought to you by

Derinkuyu Underground City, Turkey

This underground city in Cappadocia, Turkey has long finger-like stone formations with turns and eight-level warren traps descending 200ft down the earth. Built by Phrygian people between 7th-8th centuries to repel the Zealotite armies, it is the safest place to take refuge. The boulder traps at the entrance would kill anyone going through the narrow passageways. Amazing collections of cave churches are found in the nearby town of Gerome where chapels are decorated in Byzantine Christian painting. The Karanik Kilise, meaning the “the Dark Church”, is also an example of sinister features found in Gerome.

Chartres Labyrinth, France

This labyrinth has a single path coiling and turning within a 40-foot perimeter. Laid on the floor of Chartres Cathedral, France it was used in 1360 by a bishop to celebrate liturgy of Vespers during Easter. At the ceremony, the representative walked to the middle of the labyrinth, killed Satan then known as Minotaur and then threw a yellow ball to the audience symbolizing victory over death. Today, pilgrims to the labyrinth can walk over the maze once a month meditating and committing their body and soul to receive grace. Replicas of the labyrinth are found in many meditation centers and churches all over the world.

Hampton Court Palace, Herefordshire, UK

During the Renaissance hedge mazes were mostly consisted of twisted paths. Until William III era, the mazes followed a single path and had no dead ends. In 1700, William III (William of Orange) commissioned the most famous maze, which remains the largest labyrinth in England to date at Surrey Hampton Court palace. Later Shakespeare performed at the palace’s medieval hall. King Henry VIII’s tapestries still hang there.

Capuchin Crypt, Rome

Roman catacombs, known for their passageways lined with bones consist of hundreds of connected tombs. Of all the piles, Capuchin Crypt stands out built after the relocation of the order in 1631. It is below Santa Maria Della Concezione dei Cappuccini church in the Via Veneto. Here 300 cartloads of exhumed friars were found and now nearly 3700 skeletons are on display on the archways reminding people of the quick passage from life to death.

Bara Imambara, India

Built as a detour to delay invaders, Bara Imambara is a fort at Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India. The labyrinth is massive and borrows architectural style from Nawabian architecture with a shade of Mughal styles. The commissioner of Imambara, Asaf Ud-Daula and the Nawab of Lucknow commissioned it in 1784 making it the only structure in Lucknow without European architectural influence. Subsequently, thousands of rupees were spent to decorate it.

Haeinsa Temple, South Korea

Declared a world heritage by UNESCO in 1995, this temple complex houses the Tripitaka Koreana, the entire Buddhist scriptures believed to be the most accurate. These scriptures are carved onto numerous wooden blocks and monks who make a trip there every October carry them on their heads as they parade. Lanterns are usually lighted during spring in the courtyard and are arranged according to the swastika, which is the Korean Buddhism understanding for intersection of truths. Morning and evening prayers are open to all and those willing can explore the temple paths along the rough Mount Gayasan.

Overhanging Gardens of Marqueyssac, France

Louis XIV’s counselor Bertrand Vernet de Marqueyssac built this maze as a castle and a summer residence complete with terraced gardens before the French revolution. The flat edged hedges then shifted in 1861 forming three-dimensional mazes, which Julien de Cervel took interest in and carved when other hedges in places like England were being pulled down. A 4-mile path surrounds the overhanging gardens and the hedges around provide the most beautiful views over the Dordogne Valley.

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