- Are you a Star Wars fan? If yes, Tunisia is definitely the travel destination for you. Parts of George Lucas’ Star Wars movies were filmed in the deserts of Tunisia; and yes, many of these locations can still be visited.
Tunisia’s vast deserts and curious dwellings (dug out and carved underground) made it the ideal locale for Star Wars, along with a host of other Hollywood films. For all you movie buffs – especially Star Wars fans – we’ve got a little “on location” Tunisia tour awaiting you.
“When I was searching in 1977 for a place to make the first Star Wars movie I found Tunisia the ideal country for filming: beautiful countryside, unique architecture and a very high level of technical sophistication.” – George Lucas.
- Lars’ Homestead in Chott El-Jerid
- La Grande Dune
- Ongh Djemel, Chott El-Gharsa
- Yardangs in Chott El-Gharsa
- Anakin’s Slave House and Mos Espa set.
- Juntland Wastes
- Sightseeing in Tozeur
- Matmata and the Ksour Region
- Setting up base in Djerba
- Where to stay in Matmata
- The Lars’ Homestead Interior, Matmata
- The Hilltop Sunset and around Matmata
- Tatouine and the Ksar Ouled Soltane
- Ksars around Tatouine: the Ksar Hadada
- Traditional Berber villages
- The Isle of Djerba
- Chalmun’s Cantina, Ajim
- Kenobi’s Hut
- Sidi Jemour
- Explore all of Djerba
- Quick Travel Info for Star Wars Fans
If you are visiting Tunisia primarily to see the Star Wars movie locations, Tozeur in South West Tunisia is a good starting point. After you’ve checked into a hotel that fits your budget, hire a 4X4 vehicle, since you’re going to be covering a lot of rugged terrain in the next few days. It’s also a good idea to hire a professional guide for the Tozeur leg of your journey. Once the arrangements have been made, get a good night’s rest and wake up early; planet Tatooine is awaiting your arrival! BOOKING A GUIDE FOR YOUR Tozeur TRIP
-To book a guide in advance, write to the ONTT in Tunisia at [email protected]" target="_self">[email protected].
They will reply very promptly with a list of guides (along with their mobile phone numbers) in Tozeur.
-Alternatively, you can also locate a guide after landing in Tozeur. Contact the ONTT office on Avenue Aboulkacem Chebbi, Tozeur.
Phone number: (+216-76) 454 503 / 454 088
Our first stop will be the Lars’ Homestead in Chott El-Jerid. On your way down, the huge expanse of the Chott El Jerid Salt Lake is sure to astonish you.
The “eglow” built for Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith still stands. Some of the most memorable scenes were shot here, including Shmi Skywalker’s funeral in Attack of the Clones, and the final shot of Revenge of the Sith. The original 1976 set was taken apart after the shooting, but was rebuilt for the prequels. It is these ruins that you can now visit in Chott El Jerid.
“Luke, tell Owen that if he gets a translator to be sure it speaks Bocce”. – Aunt Beru shouting out to Luke who is standing at the entrance of the homestead.
Once you manage to drag yourself away from the historic homestead, head over to the La Grande Dune (Dune Sea). The Dune Sea was where R2-D2 and C-3PO crashed in Episode IV and where Ben Kenobi’s hut and Jabba’s Palace were supposedly located (in actuality these locations were shot elsewhere). On your way back to Tozeur, do make it a point to explore the town and eat out in one of the restaurants along the Avenue Abdulkacem Chebbi.“Over here! Help! Please, help!” – Threepio on the Dune Sea
Chott el Gharsa in the north of Tunisia is dotted with interesting places, and your second day will begin with a visit to Ongh Djemel (Camel Head Rock). The area overlooks the valley where Darth Sideous made his first appearance. It was also the set for the famous pod-race scenes and the location where Darth Maul launched the hunt for the Naboo Royal Starship and fought Qui-Gon Jinn. “Someone was in the pod. The tracks go off in this direction.”
- One of the troopers on discovering the lifepod that brought Artoo and Threepio to Tatooine.
The Yardangs – protruding bits of sandstone that look like shark fins peeping out of the ocean – are a popular attraction; not just for Star Wars fans, but for possibly everyone who visits Tunisia. They were the backdrop for several memorable Star Wars scenes, including the famous Jedi duel between Qui-Gonn and Darth Maul in Episode I. Also, you might notice a metal frame stuck into one of the Yardangs. Star Wars enthusiasts will be interested to learn that the springboard that Ray Park somersaulted from in The Phanthom Menace was attached to this very frame.
Mos Espa set.(top)
Just a short distance away from the Yardangs lays a cluster of props. This was Anakin’s Slave house, and was also the set for the scenes of the slave quarters in Episode I. This is also supposed to be the building where Anakin parked his pod-racer in the movie.
The main Mos Espa set is just a few hundred meters away. One can see the whole town: the huge gates of Mos Espa; the Pod-racing arena; the gallery from which Padme, Jar Jar, Shmi and Qui-Gonn watched Anakin during the pod-race; the Mos Espa streets where you will recognize Watto – the spare parts dealer’s shop; Qui-Gon’a Alley and Sebulba’s Café; the market place; and of course Jira’s Nook.
On your third day, head over to Sidi Bouhel (the Juntland Wastes) in the East of Tozeur. This is where the Jawas captured R2-D2 and where Luke met Obi-Wan Kenobi for the first time. Nicknamed the “Star Wars Canyon” by Lucas Films, it also features in Raiders of the Lost Ark and The English Patient. Just a few kilometers away are more locations from The English Patient and Raiders of the Lost Ark; if you are interested, do ask your guide to take you there.“What a desolate place this is”. – Threepio says of the Juntland Wastes
After covering all the movie locations, you might be interested in checking out the town’s beautiful beige brickwork, the three-tier garden, and taking a trip on the Red Lizard train which offers breathtaking views of the Seldja Gorge.
Matmata and the Ksour Region(top)
After taking in all of Tozeur, it’s a good idea to fly to Djerba, and make it your base for the next few days. Like in Tozeur, you’ll need to rent a sturdy 4 x 4 for the rest of your Star Wars expedition. Once that’s done, the trip to Matmata should be on the top of your list. It’s best to make the trip in the evening so that you can spend the night in a hotel there and start exploring in the early hours of the morning.
Matmata was the location for the infamous cantina scenes. A unique feature of the area is that the houses (named “troglodyte dwellings” after the Tunsian cave people who still live there) are still dug out of the earth in an attempt to protect the inhabitants from the oppressive heat.
The main attraction in Matmata is the Sidi Driss Hotel. This was where the scenes from Skywalker’s childhood home were shot. Spending a night in the hotel, imagining that you are a guest of the Lars’ is no doubt an awesome experience. Believe it or not, it’s quite possible, and you can opt to stay in one of the hotel’s reasonably priced bed and breakfast rooms.
Walking down into the Sidi Driss Hotel, one can’t help but re-live the numerous scenes that were shot there. Aunt Beru’s kitchen is still there, but except for some fiberglass and wooden frames, and the fresco on the dining room ceiling, you won’t find any props. Even so, it is easy to get excited when sitting in the very same dining room that the Lars’ used, imagining a bowl of red grain in front of Skywalker as he argued about the fate of the droids with Uncle Owen. The hotel also has a well stocked bar with a ton of Star Wars memorabilia and a Star wars inspired menu. ‘ You must understand I need you here, Luke’ – Uncle Owen asking Luke to stay on for another harvest season while they are seated for dinner one evening.
The first place to head to in the morning is the hilltop, where one can enjoy the sunrise and then spend the early hours of the morning exploring Matmata’s houses. The locals here are quite used to tourists, and will even let you walk around their homes, rarely without a fee. Some of them will even serve you home made bread drizzled with olive oil and honey, and play the tambourine to entertain you. After exploring the area, you can go back to the Sidi Driss for a final inspection. After heading back to Djerba, schedule to leave early next morning for Medinene – the biggest town in South Tunisia.
The hilly area in the South is dotted with ksars, the local name for the Berber fortresses, and ghorfas, which once housed the grains of the Berbers. Located on av 7 Nevember, the ksar in Medenine formed the backdrop of Anakin’s home, and some of the slave quarter scenes. The alleys of Medenine are also fleetingly seen in the movies. In The Phantom Menace, Ksar Medenine was featured twice: once when Anakin takes his friends home during a sand storm, and again when he runs back to say goodbye to his mother before leaving with Jinn. You can find the ally where they say goodbye just behind the bazaar which has recently cropped up.
Our next destination is Tatouine, located in the south of Medenine. Yes, the planet Tatoine did get its name from this South Tunisian town, but that’s about the town’s only contribution to the movie. Most of the scenes were shot not in Tatouine but in the hills and villages surrounding it. There is nothing specific to admire in Tatoine, but most people still enjoy a little taste of the town that lent its name to the Star Wars planet. Having come all this way, head a little further south to see the Ksar Ouled Soltane. Located on a hilltop, it is one of the biggest ksars in the region, and a hot tourist destination because of its well-preserved granary vaults. Some of the slave-quarters scenes in The Phantom Menace were also shot here.
The Ksar Hadada is located in the tiny village of Hadada, near Ghomrassen in the north of Tatouine. The ksar was prominently featured in The Phanthom Menace, including the scene where Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan Kenobi discuss the upcoming pod-race. The Ksar Hadada also doubled as the rear of the slave quarters, and features in the scenes where Anakin’s mother hints about a virgin birth and when Anakin works on his pod-racer. The ksar is uniquely built, and in some places still bears signs of the Star Wars shoots.
If you have some extra time, it’s a good idea to visit Chenini (a quaint little ksar village), and other hilltop villages like Douiret and Guemessa to experience breathtaking views of the area and enjoy a glimpse of the Berber way of life.
Djerba, with its quaint white houses and colorful scenery is charming in a way no other place is. This 614 sq km paradise island is home to 3 Star Wars destinations – Sidi Jemour, Obi Kenobi’s hut and Ajim.
The town of Ajim is located towards the South of Houmt Souk. The sponge-fishing town was the Mos Eisley location in the original Star Wars. The most important location in Ajim is the Chalmun’s Cantina, located about a kilometer away from the town. Nicknamed CC, the Mos Eisley location was in reality a traditional Berber bakery. Sadly, it is now merely an old bike shed. Standing there, it’s easy to recall the Star Wars scenes where Ackmena or Wuher tended to the customers while Wookie Chalmun looked on. Another memorable scene is when Skywalker, accompanied by Kenobi, walks in here soon after the deaths of his (Skywalker’s) aunt and uncle.
If you drive a few kilometers north you will come to Obi Kenobi’s hut. We’re sure you’ll remember the time when Kenobi chose to settle in the hut because it was close enough to the Lars’ homestead – so that he could watch over Skywalker – but far enough to have his presence ignored. “Yes, I was once a Jedi Knight the same as your father.” – Kenobi telling Skywalker the truth about his father at his hut.
Our last Star Wars destination, Sidi Jemour (Toshi Station), is where the scenes of Obi-Wan and Luke entering Mos Eisley were filmed. Rumour has it that a deleted exterior sequence for the Anchorhead was shot here as well.
Known as the Land of the Lotus Eaters, and sometimes as Tunisia’s isle of forgetfulness, Djerba is the perfect place to end your exciting Tunsian trip.
With the Star Wars locations all covered, don’t leave Djerba without exploring its other cities. Each city has something unique to offer: Sedouikech makes handmade camel muzzles, Gurellala makes the most beautiful ceramics and pottery and Midoun has its Gougou dancers. There is also a Jewish population is Djerba, and the ancient La Ghriba synagogue is a must-see.
Also, don’t forget to try the huge variety of food that Djerba has to offer. Chuckchouka, brig, and the numerous seafood dishes are quite hard to resist; almost as hard to resist as the Star Wars trip we’ve planned for you.
- Best time of the year to make the Star Wars trip is Spring or Autumn
- You will need at least one week to comfortably make the Star Wars trip.
- Schedule for more days if you want to stay on and see more of Tunisia.
- No visas are necessary if you are a national of Japan, USA, Canada or Western Europe.
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Star Wars in Tunisia
Four of the Star Wars movies were partially filmed in southern Tunisia and the joyous thing is that many of the sets are still nicely preserved. You can stay in Luke Skywalker's home (now a hotel) and wander around the desert bumping into robots and other Star Wars paraphernalia around Mos Espa.
By Essem, Aug 19, 2013