Labyrinth

Wing Maze

One of eight remaining historic turf labyrinths in England, the Wing maze was probably built by medieval monks for religious purposes.
Founded: Medieval | Location: Wing, United Kingdom

Saffron Walden Maze

The Saffron Walden maze is the largest of the eight historic turf labyrinths still in existence in England. Although probably created in the Middle Ages for religious purposes, the maze has more recently been used for games and festivities.
Founded: Probably medieval | Location: Saffron Walden, United Kingdom

Hilton maze

Unlike most historic English turf labyrinths, the Hilton maze was not cut in medieval times, but in the 17th century. It was created to celebrate the restoration of the English monarchy and a return to more carefree times. (Oliver Cromwell had banned the playing of maze games.)
Founded: 17th century | Location: Huntingdon, United Kingdom

Julian's Bower

Julian's Bower is one of England's eight remaining turf labyrinths. It is thought to date from the 12th century, although its origins may be earlier. The original purpose may well have been religious, for devotional or penitential purposes.
Founded: Medieval | Location: North Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

St Catherine's Mizmaze

One of eight historic turf labyrinths remaining in England. St Catherine"s mizmaze was built, possibly in the 17th century, on the edge of an Iron Age rampart and near the site of a Norman chapel destroyed in 1537.
Founded: Possibly 17th century | Location: Winchester, United Kingdom

City of Troy Maze, Dalby

City of Troy, in Dalby, North Yorkshire is one of eight historic turf labyrinths still remaining in England. It may date back to the Middle Ages, or earlier, being influenced by Viking mazes of similar design. Or it might have been cut in the 19th century.
Founded: Probably medieval | Location: North Yorkshire, United Kingdom

Breamore Mizmaze

The Breamore mizmaze is one of eight remaining ancient turf labyrinths in England. The first record of the mizmaze is in 1783, but it is thought to be much older than that. It is of a circular design, a labyrinth cut into quarters by a Christian cross.
Founded: Medieval | Location: Hampshire, United Kingdom

Trojaborg, Visby

The island of Gotland has many stone labyrinths, but the most famous is Trojaborg in Visby. It may have its origins in a pagan cult, but in more recent times it has been used for games and festivities.
Founded: Medieval or earlier | Location: Innerstaden, Sweden

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Königstein Fortress

Königstein Fortress is located on the left bank of the River Elbe. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe. The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50 buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress. The rampart run of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone faces. In the centre of the site is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe.

The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Königstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia dating to the year 1233. It is probable that there had been a stone castle on the Königstein as early as the 12th century. The oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle - until that point the garrison of the Königstein had to obtain water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater.

Between 1589 and 1591/97 Prince-Elector Christian I of Saxony and his successor had the castle developed into the strongest fortification in Saxony. The hill was now surrounded with high walls. Buildings were erected, including the Gatehouse (Torhaus), the Streichwehr, the Old Barracks (Alte Kaserne), the Christiansburg (Friedrichsburg) and the Old Armoury (Altes Zeughaus). The second construction period followed from 1619 to 1681, during which the John George Bastion was built. The third construction period is seen as the time from 1694 to 1756, which included the expansion of the Old Barracks. From 1722 to 1725, at the behest of August the Strong, coopers under Böttger built the enormous Königstein Wine Barrel, the greatest wine barrel in the world, in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg which had a capacity of 249,838 litres. It cost 8,230 thalers, 18 groschen and 9 pfennigs. The butt, which was once completely filled with country wine from the Meißen vineyards, had to be removed again in 1818 due to its poor condition. Because of Böttger, Königstein Fortress is also the site where European porcelain started.

Even after the expansion during those periods of time there continued to be modifications and additions on the extensive plateau. The Treasury (Schatzhaus) was built from 1854 to 1855. After the fortress had been incorporated in 1871 into the fortification system of the new German Empire, battery ramparts were constructed from 1870 to 1895 with eight firing points, that were to have provided all-round defence for the fortress in case of an attack that, in the event, never came. This was at this time that the last major building work was done on the fortress.

Because Königstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The fortress played an important role in the History of Saxony, albeit less as a result of military action. The Saxon Dukes and Prince-Electors used the fortress primarily as a secure refuge during times of war, as a hunting lodge and maison de plaisance, but also as a dreaded state prison. Its actual military significance was rather marginal.

Since 1955 the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic value.