Matmata Things to Do

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Most Recent Things to Do in Matmata

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    Troglodyte Houses.

    by euzkadi Written Nov 21, 2008

    After visiting the Sidi Idris Hotel, we were taken to a real Troglodyte Home, we visited the house, and were invited to tea and Tunisian bread (yes, we didn´t have to pay or buy anything) and talked a little with the family, then we visited some of the caves used as bedrooms, living room and kitchen. Of course our tour operator has some kind of deal with the family but they were very friendly and they really showed us how they live; it was a cool experience.

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    The Sidi Idris Hotel.

    by euzkadi Written Nov 21, 2008
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    Once used as a set of the Disco scene in the first Star Wars movie, now is a hotel with 20 rooms, each room is a cave dug from the rock, the hotel also has a bar and a restaurant and lots of visitors.

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    Matmata - Star Wars setting

    by miman Written May 28, 2007

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    Matmata's fame comes from the unusual houses – instead of building the houses, they were dug vertically into the ground. Matmata is so great that it is about to become destroyed. The town is a must-see for tourists to Tunisia, and from early morning till late afternoon bus load after bus load arrive in this small village. The landscape of Matmata is quite nice, with a couple of small table top mountains around it. Many areas appears to have been tested for creating new troglodytes, as they are unusually bumpy.

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    Landscape outside Matmata

    by barryg23 Updated Jul 31, 2006

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    Matmata Landscape

    The land around Matmata is very scenic. We travelled all the way from Houmt Souk in Djerba and passed some great sights along the way. Many people find Matmata too touristy given the number of visitors following in Luke Skywalkers footsteps. There are equally interesting towns (such as Haddej) nearby, with fewer visitors and equally good opportunities to see troglydyte houses.

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    Berber Museum 2

    by barryg23 Written Jun 3, 2006

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    Our guide seemed very modern, informative, confident and not quite how I imagined a Berber to be. She spoke fairly fast, accented French so I couldn't understand every word though she also had some English, more words than sentences though. It was a bit akward at the end and she didn't seem in a hurry for us to go and was even talking animatedly by now, perhaps because of the interest we were taking. We thanked her for the tour and said we had really enjoyed it and gave her 5D for the guiding. It's more than Rough Guide suggested but having had to hand over dinars so many times for those unworthwhile things, I had no hesitation giving it to something more deserving.

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    Berber Museum

    by barryg23 Updated Jun 3, 2006

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    The highlight of Matmata was our visit to the Berber Musem nearby where we were given a guided tour of a typical troglydyte house by a local woman whose family have lived there for years. These houses are designed to be cold in summer and warm in winter using the Earth as a natural insulator. And it does get hot here. In March when we visited it was above 25 degrees. Just imagine what August is like.

    We walked down a long passageway to the first room which had exhibits on the various types of troglodyte houses. Our guide explained that the number of caves depends on how rich a family is. Many caves are shared by three or four generations of the same family, with the kids and the old people sleeping in the most uncomfortable looking places. In olden times the grandparents used to write the history of the family into the walls.

    We saw the storeroom which had vast barrels for storing food, the kitchen with it's bread making grinder and the chimney for letting the smoke up and the bedroom, which looked very nice. Another room had models in the dress of participants in a berber wedding. THe man and woman do ot see each other until their wedding day, and she travelled to the wedding on a camel chaise. Some of these traditions have died out nowadays, especially since marriages take place between people living further apart (e.g. the camel-chaise has been replaced by a car!) but many do remain.

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    Hotel Sidi Driss

    by barryg23 Updated Jun 3, 2006

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    Hotel Sidi Driss

    Hotel Sidi Driss is one of Matmata's most visited troglydyte houses. The house was used in the original Star Wars film and in the Phantom Menace. I recognised it as Luke's home in the first movie though I'm not familiar enough with the new movies to recognise where it was used in the Phantom Menace. Nowadays it is a hostel style hotel. Outside it is surrounded by souvenir shops while inside some of the set from the Phantom Menace is in place and there are posters on the wall about the hotel's use in Star Wars. The receptionist/owner was happy enough to let us wander around the rooms and he explained (in French) about the hotel.

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    Inside Hotel Sidi Driss

    by barryg23 Updated Jun 3, 2006

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    Hotel Sidi Driss
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    There are 5 rooms below ground connected by small tunnels. The main room has a numebr of dorm style rooms, plus a couple of smaller rooms. There is also a bar and restaurant where the Phantom Menace set lies, plus a couple of more rooms used as bedrooms and storage. There were a few more people visiting along with us, though it didn't appear that any were staying. We thanked the guy and walked above ground to look down on it all from above. It's a bizzare landscape, you just don't realize these dwellings are there at all until you're right over them. The Sidi Driss ones are marked by a circle of spikes around each room.

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    Troglodyte houses

    by gmg61 Written Dec 5, 2005

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    The dwell of a troglodyte house
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    The extreme heat of the are and the lack of any kind of shelter forced the Berbers to invent an original way to protect themselves: by digging their homes instead of building them! That's why a Tunisian saying says that "Matmata is the place where living persons live under the deaths"!
    The troglodytes houses consisted in a well of about 6 metres depth, and around it a labyrinth of small rooms for sleeping, grain storage and family gatherings, cut into the soft rock and interconnected by narrow passageways. The entrance was a tunnel that could be easily closed in case of danger.
    Some of these houses are still inhabited, while some of tem are only curiosities for tourists and at least one of them has been converted into a hotel (Hotel Sidi Driss)

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Desert

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  • maltese24's Profile Photo

    visit a house

    by maltese24 Written Nov 1, 2005

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    In Matmata, besides the amazing view of the landscape, one must visit a house where people live. the people still live in primitive conditions and it is hard for them to survive the daily life.....however they are all with a smile and seem to be very happy!

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    • Architecture

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  • JLBG's Profile Photo

    Actual troglodytic house

    by JLBG Written Jan 3, 2005

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    In an actual troglodytic house, the human housing has been more carefully built, there is a door, the wall is painted, usually in white. In the center of the "well", what shows is not a well but the top of a cistern. When it rains, usually in Spring, the rain water is flowing on the soil is collected in an underground cistern where it keeps fresh year long. I have tasted it in August, it was amazingly cool ! Of course, all the collecting area is kept very clean so that the water will not be soiled.

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    • Architecture

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    An unsophisticated "well house" ?

    by JLBG Written Jan 3, 2005

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    Some of these "well houses" have actually never been inhabited by people. Caves have been roughly carved in the inner wall of the "well" and the soil has remained mostly rough. They have been used as a barn to keep the crops or as a sheepfold to house the cattle.

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    • Architecture

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    Out of the tunnel

    by JLBG Written Jan 3, 2005

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    The tunnel can be only a few meters, but sometimes, when the slope is not very steep, it can have 20 or 30 meters. Beware, it is only light by the sunlight from both ends and the soil can be rough ! At the end, you arrive at the bottom of the "well house"

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    • Architecture

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    The entrance

    by JLBG Written Jan 3, 2005

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    However, if you are not an alpinist, do not worry, you have never to climb down along a rope to get into. The inhabitants build them on slopes. Then at the lower end of the slope, there is a kind of tunnel used for a level entrance.

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    • Architecture

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  • JLBG's Profile Photo

    A hole !

    by JLBG Written Jan 3, 2005

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    Near Matmata, if you leave the road and walk in the dry and desert land, you might see goats, camels, donkeys grazing the miserable crop as this all they can find they can find and suddenly, without any warning, a big hole in the soil. This is your first troglodytic house.

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    • Architecture

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Matmata Things to Do

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