If you’re touring the beautiful desert landscape of Tunisia’s south, you’ll likely travel through Matmata, a small town that’s made its way into the hearts of travelers for decades because of its other-worldly underground homes. The troglodyte homes (troglodyte meaning cave-dwellers) were made famous in Star Wars when George Lucas used one as Luke Skywalker’s childhood home.
Visiting an Underground Home in Matmata, Tunisia
Visiting an underground home in Matmata is an amazing experience. The entrance is in the side of a small hill, so it feels like stepping into a cave.
An entrance room leads off into other parts of the home through a system of tunnels. The tunnels can be surprisingly extensive if the home is large. The rooms are designated for sleeping, cooking, eating, or socializing, just like a normal home.
Each tunnel connects back to a courtyard. The courtyard for the underground home is important because it brings in fresh air. It’s also a central location for family members to do chores and connect socially.
Getting to Know a Family In Matmata, Tunisia
I’ve had the privilege of building a relationship with a family that has done an excellent job hosting our guests for visits. Jamal and Saleeha give tours of their home and demonstrate Berber traditions such as couscous-making and rug-weaving. They also display tools that are used in Berber society.
While you can always stop in for a short tour of their underground home, I recommend joining them for a meal to slow down and get to know them. You’ll get a glimpse of what life is like for them. Besides delicious food, you’ll take away memories – not only of an underground home, but also of a wonderful family. Their lives might be very different than yours externally, but they are normal people with the same needs and concerns for life and raising a family as everyone else. Seeing an amazing site and getting to know real people – that’s about as great as travel can get!
Book Your Tour to Matmata, Tunisia
Our passion is to connect travelers to the amazing people and sites of Tunisia, like those in Matmata. Contact us to book your tour to Tunisia that includes a visit to an underground home in Matmata!
Austin learned the power of authentic travel during a year home-stay experience in Brazil. Since then, he’s been passionate about connecting deeply with other cultures and helping fellow travelers do the same. He and his wife have lived in Tunisia for several years. He continues to be surprised by the hidden gems the country has to offer, as well as the hospitality and kindness of the Tunisian people.
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