Star Wars hotel
It's been 30 years since Star Wars
came out, and I can't believe I've only just heard of ksars. These beautiful Tunisian buildings carved out of sandstone were once used as grain stores and now have a double life as hotels — plus, thanks to George Lucas, movie locations.
To devotees of the sci-fi franchise, the Sidi Driss Hotel in Matmata (pictured immediately above) is better known as the 'Star Wars hotel'. If it looks familiar, that's because Tunisia
doubled as the planet Tatooine, and these cavernous dwellings cut into the sandstone played Luke Skywalker's childhood home. Some of the movie decor was left behind when filming stopped, so it's not surprising to find out the hotel's a big draw for die-hard Star Wars fans. They've been coming there in such large numbers for so many years that, apparently, many locals have packed up and moved away.
Clearly George Lucas had a thing for ksars and ghurfas (the tubular rooms within them). Later on — or was that earlier on? I get confused — it was back to Tatooine for The Phantom Menace. In Medenine, 35 miles southeast of Matmata, the ksar (pictured above and top) was the location for young Anakin Skywalker's home. They definitely have an other-worldly quality. If anyone reading this has stayed in one, we'd love to know what it was like.
Images: top and bottom, with thanks to Star Wars tour guide