The hotel used for the Star Wars set was used in the original 1977 film was shot in 1976.
Secrets I learnt about the famous Matmata Star Wars set:-
- This map shows you there are FIVE separate holes in the ground with rooms cut in the sides of the walls. There are also corridors that connect these all together.
- Its 130km from Jof, the ferry port that you can get a boat from Djerba. If you get the right bus from Djerba, you can go all the way there for something like 7 Dinar (£2)
- The underground hotel is great condition as here at the main courtyard the walls have been reinforced with concrete and then plaster and then painted, similar cave houses have collapsed in heavy rain in the past, this happened in the 1960s here in Matmata.
- Part of the caves is not in regular use, as there is some renovation being done.
- The wifi only works if you sit about 5 metres from the reception desk! Wifi don’t work well in caves. This is good as it is great to make the effort to chat and get to know the locals.
- Many of the people who hang out here are local Tunisians who come to use the bar and the food that is served.
- The hotel does not have a web site!! You can’t book a room with many of the common online accommodation sites either! I had to just email and myself and they kept our word I would be staying and they would have a place for me. I don’t know when are their busy times.
- One of the locals got me to watch A New Hope on his laptop which had Arabic subtitles.
- There is a room with photos of some of the scenes shot from 1977 and also a picture of a Japanese couple who got married here.
- When you get here a local will constantly pressure you into buying a guided tour. This can tiresome and off-putting but is part of the North African/Middle East life I’ve got used to.
- When I came in November 2019 there was almost no one staying here, I met one guy from Latvia briefly and some French and Chinese tourists came here to take pictures and then left. Its a shame as the cave bedrooms are lovely to sleep in.
- The town looks nothing like the desert landscape with the two moons and the igloo-like structure that Luke exits the house out of, this is a completely different location, which is probably closer to the Sahara. Actually, Matmata is quite green and has dates and olive trees and chickens running around everywhere.
- I think Tunisian Arabic sounds different from the Arabic I heard in the Middle East, as “la” is no in Arabic but Tunisians appear to say “ley” instead. Its “lo” in Hebrew and “le” in Maltese which is all part of the Semitic language family.
- Some of the Berber people set up a table outside Sidi Idris hotel with locally made honey for sale.
Making a web site and perhaps putting in better wifi sounds like the dream IT job for someone out there….
Can you imagine with a bit of an investment and some slick marketing, meeting rooms in caves with projectors (and some nicer toilets) that this could be a great IT conference and training centre? This would be a great way for hi-tech companies to treat their employees too.
1. Plans – 2. French Connection – 3. My hotel in Djerba – 4. El Griba synagogue outside – 5. El Griba synagogue inside – 6. Markets – 7. Christianity in Tunisia – 8. Ferry to mainland Tunisia – 9. Getting to Matmata, Tunisia – 10. Sidi Idris Hotel New Hope Star Wars filmset – 11. Secrets I learnt about the famous Matmata Star Wars set – 12. Cave homes for would-be Jedis – 13. More what you don’t see in Star Wars at Hotel Sidi Idris – 14. How hospitable is Sidi Idris? – 15. ATM machines and drought – 16. Matmata Nouvelle (New Matmata) – 17. Tunisian butchers and fisherman – 18. Libyan and Algerian neighbours – 19. Jewellery businesses in Djerba – 20. Tunisia and Israel relations – 21. Hara Kebira, Jewish school, soap and TV repair shops – 22. Jewish community of Hara Kebira – 23. Going home