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Underground houses of Matmâta

Listed under Historic Towns and Villages in Tunisia.

  • Photo of Underground houses of Matmâta
  • Photo of Underground houses of Matmâta
  • Photo of Underground houses of Matmâta
Photo of Underground houses of Matmâta
Photo by flickr user gorik
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Some of the residents in this town still live in underground homes similar to the troglodyte dwellings people who settled here thousands of years ago lived in. They’re like Luke Skywalker’s home in Star Wars – built into the ground around a central pit, with rooms connected to each other via passages which are like trenches. The true history of this unusual town is unknown, but stories passed down through families who’ve lived in the area for hundreds of years suggest people have been living below ground here since Roman times when local tribes built their homes underground to hide from invaders and used to come out at night to attack them – starting myths about monsters rising from the sands at night.

It wasn’t until 1967 that the outside world really knew this town existed, it was thought the people in the region were nomadic, but when severe rains flooded some of the houses the community had to send a party out looking for help with the rebuild. An above ground section was built at the same time but most families preferred to stay below ground.

Star Wars has made these homes pretty famous and the actually building used in the film is now a hotel – the Hotel Sidi Driss – which people can stay in to get a taste for the underground lifestyle.

Written by  World Reviewer Staff.

Other expert and press reviews

“Ksar Ouled Soltane, Tunisia”

By: Andy Carvin for Sssociated Press First Published: Wednesday, 25 January, 2006 "I wasn't allowed here when I was young," recalls Bashir, a lanky Berber villager with just a hint of premature gray in his chin stubble. "Only the adults … Read more...

Written by press. Continue reading on Associated Press Site

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