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Matmata And Its Ancient Structure

Mon, Dec 7, 2009

Northern Africa




Matmata the place of past underground dwellings and Future with Star wars.

Matmata is a place when you visit you have dilemma of its ancient structure or do you see it as high tech modern scene of Star Wars.

matmata tunisia star wars

Here lays the scenic beauty of old times and also a finest example of human’s of there survival and brilliance and mastery over the construction and housing and development.

Jewel in the crown of Tunisia is the village Matmata that attracts lots of tourist for the part it plays in the movie Star Wars. Also the visitors who are interested in buildings and constructions find it one of the most amazing, striking and over all spectacular form of underground dwellings of human beings.

To reach Matmata you can reach Tunis Carthage International Airport and from there you have bus services available.  If going via car you can take road to southwest out of Gabes and leading to New Matmata.

Tunis Carthage International Airport

The main attraction is the construction of there homes which are known as troglodyte homes which means they were dug out into the earth. A typical village is formed by digging a large pit in the ground and artificial caving by using them as rooms. This kind of dwelling style known as troglodyte style helps you in turbulent times from the raiders and gives you pleasant temperature in subterranean climate. It’s safe and cool during the day time and keeps you warm in night when temperature outside gets cold. The Berber people were first to dug such homes over 1000 years ago and it formed underground communities and to join them they constructed tunnels. This place was named after Berber tribe. If you have watched Star Wars (Obviously you have done that. Who hasn’t?)  The home of Luke Skywalker, Uncle Owen Lars is the location of Lars Homestead in the movie Star Wars is in fact a famous hotel of village Matmatta, Its hotel Sirdi Driss. In this hotel you can live in the traditional troglodyte style of accommodations. Also it has remaining set pieces of the movie as its star attraction.

The comprehension of Matmata History is filled with many tales and myths, from roman empires to Egyptian tribes. However it is in year 1967 that there were regular settlements in this area. In that year there was intensive rainfall which cousntinued till 22 days leading to flooding in the troglodyte homes and causing them to collapse, that the nomadic tribes of those region contacted governmental authorities in the town of Gabes for help. The help was provided and thus Matmata came to known.

matmata history

Over the years with shooting of Star Wars over there it has become a well known tourist attraction and the residents of the village lives on tourism and exhibiting their homes with folklore and arts and crafts.

As You are visiting this underground dwellings you may enter many houses and watching from any angel they look so similar. You will walk down the dark passageways and seeing the courtyard and which is mostly white in color and so different then any cave feeling. The interior display simplicity and basic but it gives it ingenious look to the place and shows the notable understanding of the artistry there. You can observe the vaulting of the ceilings, the round shelves cutting into the walls directly and with different hues of colors with white background it is illuminating in the cave like houses.

The Berber carpets are souvenirs to buy which are beautifully woven.

Going on package tour will make the traveling easy but it’s an experience to stay over night. The village is with stunning landscapes and astonishing terrains with night time you can feel so close to nature. Its remarkable to spend a day or two over there. The life there is not with maddening rush but of peace and calm. No rush and no traffic just the beautiful place and startling nights. Taking walks on pink-orange desert hills along with your loved ones or camping out and making bonfire’s will add to the fun in stay. There is dry river bed and small ridges to take walk. Even though its desert terrain but you still find greenery islands by the farmers and big heighten date trees. Also you can feel like nomad and do camel riding. Its recommended that you explore in early morning or late in evening or nights. And early morning time gives troglodytes the breath taking view. Also summer is very very hot. So it’s better to explore the inner caves during that time and feel free and easy to explore the terrain late in evening.

The reverse way of living this is so different from the cities that we live in.  The concrete jungle and sky rises that we are hardly able to see the sky, its dramatic change to live in village of Matmata.

It’s marvelous and dazzling to be in Matmatta.

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