Star Wars Filming Sets in Matmata, Tunisia Promotes Desert Tourism for the Berbers

star wars film in tunisiaR2D2 – Tunisia’s landscape and subterranean dwellings have made it ideal for filming our  Star Wars movies!

When the Star Wars films began they chose Turkey and its fairy chimneys for the futuristic backdrop of the science fiction films. Later films were shot in Tunisia and some fans have even gone so far as to restore characters’ homes, like Luke Skywalker’s house pictured below. Tunisia, Egypt and more North African countries, are facing serious political upheavals and desertification. Can Star Wars movies and the movie industry in general educate people on the woes facing these conflict-prone countries?

hotel sidi driss star wars film in tunisiaHotel Sidi Driss in Matmata was also Luke Skywalker’s desert homestead. But it’s a traditional Berber home. 

Tunisia is a Mediterranean coastal and desert country that has been a favorite movie set location, including at least three of the extremely popular Star Wars films. The popularity of Tunisia, besides perhaps the friendliness of its people, may also be attributed to its unique topography and desert architecture; especially subterranean dwellings like the Hotel Sidi Driss located in the desert oasis of Matmata.

The cave-like desert dwellings of Matmata, go back hundreds of years and are a real indication of how people can live in harmony with the harsh desert conditions that are often scorching hot during the daytime and bone-chilling cold at night. The hotel itself, besides being a unique desert tourist hideaway, has been used as Star Wars’ character Luke Skywalker’s desert homestead in at least two of the series films.

Matmata, Tunisia. The largest region of the troglodyte communities. One of many dwellings - fragment of courtyard excavated in the rock (circular crater a few meters deep)

Matmata caves in Tunisia in the region of the troglodyte communities. 

The immense popularity of the Star Wars series has resulted an another film now being planned by J.J. Abrams , the Emmy-award-winning creator of TV’s “Lost” and director of 2009’s “Star Trek” movie. He has been chosen and has agreed to direct the seventh installment of the “Star Wars” series.

Luke Skywalker home tunisia star warsLuke Skywalker’s home in Tunisia. Before, and after shots. Fans renovated this building. 

Tunisia’s attempts to be in harmony with the desert, which covers most of the country’s southern regions, has  also included several large scale solar energy projects, carried out in conjunction with the Desertec series of solar energy projects in North Africa.

The filming location of the next installment has not yet been announced; and with the final completed film only coming out in 2015. But perhaps the pristine desert landscapes of Tunisia may once again play host to the  Star Wars actors and film crews and could also be a welcome boost to Tunisia’s tourist industry, which has been flagging since the original Arab Spring uprising.

In the meantime, those tourists choosing to visit Tunisian locations like Matmata can see its truly unique subterranean architecture, which proves that people can indeed live in harmony with the desert and keep the process of desertification at bay.

Read more on Tunisia, desertification, and deserts:
5 Things Wikipedia Won’t Tell You About Tunisia
Ancient Nabatean Wisdom to Prevent Desertification Today
Desertification in Egypt is Putting Food Supplies at Risk
Greenprohet’s Whirlwind Trip to the Siwa Oasis in Egypt


Image of Matmata caves via Shutterstock

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