Matmata in Tunisia, Where To Stay And What To Do

Matmata, a tiny hamlet in southern Tunisia known for its otherworldly subterranean houses, is a must-see for any visitor to the region’s stunning desert scenery. Luke Skywalker grew up in a troglodyte dwelling (troglodyte meaning cave-dwellers) made famous by George Lucas’s Star Wars.

History Of Matmata, Tunisia

Matmata in Tunisia

Ancient History

Only stories passed down through the ages can explain how this unique site came to be. The most fantastical theory is that two Egyptian tribes were sent by the Roman Empire to settle the Matmata area after one of the Punic wars, with orders to exterminate everyone who got in their path.

The locals dug caverns in the earth and abandoned their houses to escape the attackers, only to emerge at night to launch surprise attacks that seemed to drive the murderous gangs away from Matmata. In ancient times, the idea that monsters would emerge from the earth and slaughter land pirates was widely circulated as an urban legend. Regardless, the subterranean communities survived in a dangerous environment for millennia without anybody knowing about them until 1967.

Since Tunisia is well-known for its abundant olive oil production, each spring the men would go north of the villages in search of employment, only to return in the fall when the olive harvest was complete. Olive oil was a common form of payment, and it could be exchanged for other items (or, more recently, cash) to ensure that their families had what they needed to live comfortably.

Recent History

It wasn’t until 1967 that the existence of permanent communities in addition to nomadic tribes in this region became well acknowledged.

Many of the troglodyte dwellings were washed away by the 22 days of continuous rain that year. A group was sent to Gabes, the regional hub, to lobby for assistance from the government. Although the unexpected arrival was met with assistance, the Matmata town was eventually constructed above ground. However, the majority of the population carried on with their lives in newly constructed subterranean homes.

How To Get To Matmata, Tunisia?

Rent A Car

Take the A1 south from Tunis to get to Sfax. When you get to Gabes, take the N16 route east towards Matmata. This trip should take you around 7–8 hours.

Take The Bus

Those in need of reliable transportation choices may choose from various bus companies that run regular routes between Tunis and Matmata. Companies like SNT, Louages, and Steg make it simple for passengers to set off on the about 11-hour travel. Instead, you may fly into the nearby airport in Gabes if you’d want to be there quickly. Take a cab or a bus from that central location to reach the fascinating city of Matmata in no time.

Join A Guided Tour

Matmata’s troglodyte houses and Berber culture are on full display during guided excursions that create an unforgettable experience. You can learn about the history of the area and see some of the fascinating buildings while you’re doing it. Chott el Jerid is just one of the exciting places you can visit in the area. Check out these tours on Viator: 

Where To Stay In Matmata, Tunisia?

If you are looking to travel to Matmata, make sure to check out these hotels for a wonderful stay:

Hotels in Matmata:

  • Au Trait d’Union Tijma Matmata: Located in Matmata, Au Trait d’Union Tijma Matmata has a restaurant, a common kitchen, a bar, a garden, and a patio with views of the mountains. There is free Wi-Fi available.
  • Hôtel Marhala Matmata: Enjoy the garden, common area, patio, and onsite restaurant at the Hôtel Marhala Matmata. If you wish to go out and about during your stay, you can take advantage of the hotel’s free private parking or rent a vehicle. Each guestroom at the hotel has a closet. Each room at the Hôtel Marhala Matmata has air conditioning and use a communal bathroom.

Hotels near Matmata:

  • Dar Ayed Tamezret: In Tamezret, Dar Ayed Tamezret offers a garden, a shared lounge, a sun terrace with an outdoor pool, and a complimentary breakfast buffet. There is a restaurant on-site, as well as a communal kitchen, room service, and free WiFi. Private parking is available for free, and the facility also offers an airport shuttle for a fee. This hotel is 9.7 km far from Matmata.
  • Auberge de Tamezret: The Tamezret hotel Auberge de Tamezret has a restaurant and a bar in addition to its garden and patio. There is a 24-hour front desk, airport shuttle service, hotel room service, and free WiFi. The guest rooms of the inn each include an iPad. There is a private bathroom in every room, and each one has a shower, complimentary amenities, and a hair hairdryer. Bed linens and bath towels are provided in each room. It is around 10 km far from Matmata town.

What To Do In Matmata, Tunisia?

Visit The Troglodyte Houses

Matmata is well-known for its troglodyte homes, which are underground structures with cave-like interiors. Some individuals still live in homes that were initially constructed by the Berbers. Matmata, as well as Chenini and Tamezret, are home to troglodyte dwellings worth seeing.

Visit The Desert

Matmata sits in the heart of the Sahara Desert, and the region’s barren nature provides several options for adventure. Camel safaris, 4×4 rides, and even just strolls across the desert are all options.

Explore The Ksar Ouled Soltane

Located not far from Matmata is the Berber fortress of Ksar Ouled Soltane. The Ksar is a magnificent representation of Berber architecture, so much so that UNESCO has designated it a World Heritage Site.

Get to know The Berber Culture

The original people of North Africa are the Berbers, who have a long and illustrious history and culture. The Matmata Museum is a great place to get an introduction to Berber history and culture, as is taking a Berber cookery lesson.

Visit A Oasis

You may cool down from the desert heat in one of the several oases that are close to Matmata. Enjoy the tranquility of the oasis while swimming in the pool.

Read also: Useful Tunisia words and phrases for your holiday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *