The sands of Matmata

The hill top Berber village of Chenini in Tataouine South Tunisia

The hill top Berber village of Chenini in Tataouine South Tunisia

Rugged and barren, the desert region of southern Tunisia with its unique landscape seems to look like something out of a forgotten land lost in the sands of time. The land surrounded by rocky hills and beautiful dunes, home to the Berber is definitely worth a detour. An ideal location for a film shoot, it was used by George Lucas as the movie set for his first episode of Star Wars which son followed by other Star Wars sequels. it was not long till visitors would flock to the area especially movie fans just to get a glimpse of the home planet of Luke Skywalker and the Jedi heroes of Star Wars. One of the most impressive sight when arriving in the area is perhaps seeing the old fortified Berber village of Chenini perched on a rocky hill. Mostly abandoned, the old city is an amalgamation of living quarters and granaries.

The old Berber village of Chenini in south Tunisia

The old Berber village of Chenini in south Tunisia

If some of its movie decor still remains, the region itself is known for its troglodytes underground living structures which is one of the main touristic attraction and especially following the Star Wars sequels, the place has attracted many of the movie fans eager to see the home town of Luke Skywalker. Living in these underground caves can be quite an adventure, I am not too sure if comfort fits in the decor but it is certainly much cooler inside. Most cave dwellings are seen in Matmata and often local Berbers will welcome any visitors to their home.

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Other places of interest in and around Matmata are the desert cities of Tataouine and Douiret as well as the must visit Berber granaries popularly known as ksour, especially the most visited are Ksour Hadada, Ksour Hallouf and Ouled Soltan. These are uniquely designed beehive form ghorfas or vaulted rooms where grains are stored.

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Explore the surrounding area where you can come across this lovely old Berber village of Douiret strewn with white washed stone structures known locally as marabout or shrines of holy men.

The old village of Douiret

The old village of Douiret

Categories: Matmata

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7 replies »

  1. After what happened at the Bardo Museum, all we need to hear is good news from the country which so far seems to be the lone success story of the Arab Spring. Thank you for those beautiful images of Tunisia’s Berber villages.

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