Matmata Things to Do

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Best Rated Things to Do in Matmata

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    Improved barn or sheepfold

    by JLBG Updated Jan 3, 2005

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    An improved type of sheepfold "well house" is when the soil has been leveled and is even. However, nothing has ever been masoned. Neither this type of place has ever been used as a people's house but is often still in use for animals as it is the cheapest type of housing.

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    A sophisticated ''well'' house

    by JLBG Updated Nov 5, 2004

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    Troglodytic houses can take various aspects, depending of the topological possibilities of the ground where they are built and of the wealth of the owner. This one is very large, which has allowed building inside a more conventional house. It is more comfortable and thus is really in use.

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    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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    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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    The entrance

    by croisbeauty Updated Sep 15, 2004

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    No names or numbers on the front door of the house, instead there are symbols of hand and fish coloured in the traditional blue colour.
    The hand (so-called Fatima's hand) shows how many families live in the house, while the fish symbolized wisdom, tranquility and welcome to the visitors.

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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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    Inside Hotel Sidi Driss

    by barryg23 Updated Jun 3, 2006

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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.

    Hotel Sidi Driss Prop from The Phantom Menace Interior of Hotel Sidi Driss Bar at Hotel Sidi Driss Hotel Sidi Driss

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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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    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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    The inneryard

    by croisbeauty Updated Nov 23, 2004

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    The inneryard is pretty huge and open to the air. It is centrally positioned in the house from where Berbers can get to each of many rooms. Some of the houses are two-storeyed constructions but without the staircase. They use a simple rope to get to the upper level where the sleeping rooms for younger people are situated.

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    The dining room

    by croisbeauty Updated Nov 23, 2004

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    The biggest room of the house is a dinning room where locals spend most of the day-time. This one have a very beautiful and interesting kind of frescoe paintings on the ceiling. The dining room is very simple and almost without any furniture.

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    The Berber Museum

    by kazander Updated Mar 10, 2004

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    The museum of art and tradition is open every day, except monday. It gives examples of a traditional Berber dwelling, called a troglodyte. It's a very interesting structure. A giant hole is dug vertically in the earth as the main space. Rooms are hollowed out, making little caves into bedrooms, kitchens, ect.. A tunnel from the surface to the main space is the entrance, though in some instances a ladder is used. These homes were built this way as protection from the elements as well as intruders. It's a lot cooler underground than in the hot desert sun.

    There are many of these homes in Matmata. Best to explore the museum instead of peering down in to what is essentaily a family's living room!

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    The corridor

    by croisbeauty Updated Nov 23, 2004

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    The outside temperature was around 50 C degrees, very hot but dry and I had no problem with breathing.Inside the long corridor, which leads to the inneryard, the temperature was around 35C degrees and that seemed to me very refreshing.

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    Hotel Sidi Driss

    by barryg23 Updated Jun 3, 2006

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    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.

    Hotel Sidi Driss

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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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Matmata Things to Do

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