A maze is a puzzle with a simple rule – travel from start to finish. The tricky part is that the path from start to finish is not straightforward, but full of twists and turns. It is usually packed in a compact rectangle or circle, with numerous forks and branches. Because of its simplicity, it has been a popular puzzle for millennia.
Like any puzzle, there are tricks to solving mazes. The most basic, but highly effective rule, is the right-hand rule. This is a form of wall following rule, where you run the maze while tracing the wall your right hand is touching. Keep following a wall with your right hand and you will eventually reach the end.
The rule works for most simple mazes that are simply-connected, where each wall is connected to the outermost wall. But in some cases, the maze is not simply-connected and you will end up in a loop. In this case, you will eventually end back at the beginning, so you will have to try follow a different wall (i.e. use your left hand instead and see how you go).
One of the most famous mazes in history is the Cretan labyrinth, featured in Greek mythology (likely based on the actual palace of Knossos). The Cretan labyrinth was a cryptic maze within the palace the housed the fearsome minotaur, to whom human sacrifices were sent to be devoured. The minotaur is slain by the hero Theseus, who navigates the labyrinth and safely escapes by using a ball of thread given to him by the princess, Ariadne, as a trace.
Mazes were especially popular amongst nobles in Europe, with many castles featuring hedge mazes as part of their magnificent gardens. It is likely that these mazes were popular not because they offer an intellectual challenge, but because it is an ideal date location.
Walking a maze gives you a sense of intimacy, because the paths are narrow and you can only perceive a small space of 10-20 square metres, due to its many-walled nature. You walk side-by-side with each other, while your footsteps echo on the hedges. You have nothing else to distract you other than plain walls and the sky, so you can focus on each other. But most importantly, it provides privacy, by transporting you to a secret, little world of your own.