Peace may not be what you experience while wandering lost inside this much-visited permanent maze. However, peace — specifically, a peaceful future for the people of Northern Ireland following decades of violence and strife — was the catalyst behind this nearly 3-acre maze sporting over 2 miles of paths.
Opened to the public in 2001, the Peace Maze at Castlewellan Forest Park was largely funded by the European Union Special Support Programme for Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland. Conceived by landscape architect Beverly Lear with design input from thousands of local school children, the 6,000 yew tree maze was actually planted by residents of Northern Ireland during community planting days. In a highly symbolic deviation from standard hedge maze design, the walls within Peace Maze are markedly lower in order to encourage cooperation between maze-walkers. And once the center of the Peace Maze is reached, visitors ring the Peace Bell — one of the most frequently rung bells in Northern Ireland — to announce their accomplishment to the world. The Peace Maze was the world's largest maze until Dole's Pineapple Maze stole the top spot in 2007.