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Postcard From Tunisia - Matmata

The Matmata Hotel

Jen at the entrance to our 'cave'. Room number 17 at the Matmata Hotel. PS:Luke Skywalker was here!

Further North from the Douirat and Chenini area is the village of Matmata, well known due to the filming of the original Star Wars at this location. This is where the Berbers went underground to escape the heat.

A dry arid area, above ground a few parched olive trees and palms surviving in terraced valleys, below ground the living quarters of the original inhabitants.

Some of these 'buildings' are still in use, others crumble as the environment and harshness of the life forces people away to the larger cities, probably never to return.

These underground houses are constructed by first digging out a central courtyard on the side of a hill. An entrance tunnel is then dug through to the courtyard from lower down the hill. Living quarters and storage 'caves' are dug out around the courtyard. Need an extension? Just dig a little further.

Most of the people that remain live top-side, but a few cling to the old life and save on the air-conditioning bill.

The landscape looks a bit "lunar" with the house craters dotting the hillsides.

However, peep over the top and you will see daily life being carried out as it has been done for centuries.

We stayed at the Matmata Hotel. The main business of this hotel seems to be lunches for the tour groups that pass by. There is not much to do in Matmata at night, and it is not a good area to go wandering in the dark, you might drop in on someone, unexpectedly. A stay of a couple of days will, however, give you the chance to experience underground living and have a decent look at the place.

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