“Random encounters with the unusual” is a repository for the oddities that me and Mrs J have encountered on our travels, which we find interesting or amusing in some way. Have a look, maybe you will find something interesting or amusing herein.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Dropping in on the Skywalkers

In 2002 I took a trip to Tunisia and while I was there I visited the Berber town of Matmata. Matmata is a small settlement in the south of the country where some of the local residents still live in traditional underground troglodyte dwellings. A troglodyte dwelling is essentially a large pit dug into the ground (a courtyard of sorts), off of which separate caves are dug which serve as rooms for the family living there. These underground residences provide the benefits of being cool during the hot desert days, and offer insulation and warmth during the cool desert nights. It seems that this permanent underground settlement in Matmata was not widely known about until 1967, when intense rainfall (lasting 22 days) caused a number of the troglodyte homes to collapse and forced some of the residents to seek help from the Tunisian authorities.

The troglodyte homes of Matmata did not stay secret for long however, and one of these was used as the location for Luke Skywalker's home on the planet of Tatooine in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977). This film set is now a hotel (The Hotel Sidi Driss), and when you visit you can still see traces of the Lars' moisture farm on Tatooine where Luke Skywalker lived with his aunt Beru and uncle Owen.

Interesting, this troglodyte house was only used for the interior shots of Luke's home, the exterior shots in the movie where filmed around 100 miles away to the north west, near Chott El Jerid. The "igloo" that formed the surface part of the Lars' moisture farm can apparently still be found in the middle of nowhere, on the old salt lake flats near Chott El Jerid.

The home that Luke shared with his aunt and uncle is not the only part of the Star Wars films that were shot in Tunisia, it seems that Tunisia abounds with abandoned film sets that portrayed locations on the fictional planet of Tatooine, from both A New Hope and The Phantom Menace. So if you ever visit Tunisia, your inner geek may get the chance to visit Obi-Wan Kenobi's hermitage, Mos Espa, Toshi Station or even the settlement where Anakin Skywalker lived as a slave with his mother during The Phantom Menace.

The remains of the set of Luke Skywalker's house (the Lars' moisture farm):

Inside a troglodyte dwelling:

The view above ground:

Pictures, Tunisia (December 2002).

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