Matmata

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Matmata Rock Dwellings

Matmata is one of the most-visited places by tourists in Tunisia because of extraordinary dwellings that the local Berbers inhabit. At first glance the area seems uninhabited, but approaching it, the underground dwellings dug into the rocks of the layer can be seen.

Matmata is located 40km from Gabes, and can be reached by road from Gabes, from Tuzhan and from Duz.

In the past, nobody knew that in this strange and mysterious area of the Sahara people live. Only stories were told from generation to generation. During the Roman Empire, there were Egyptian people sent to the to make their homes there. In the beginning of one of the Punic Wars permission was given to kill all the people on the path of the soldiers.

That led people to hide in underground dwellings. Because nobody knew of the "underground" many people told stories of how from the depths of the earth a monster came out and kill soldiers. Indeed, in the past that were Berbers, who moved from their homes to defend their families from enemies.

Only in 1967 the existence of this strange city was learned about. Today the population of Matmata is living mainly from tourism, and about 700 people still live in the caves left by their ancestors. For such a house, one does not need special construction materials and furniture, because the beds and shelves and cabinets are dug from the rocks. The house is accessed by pandusi- ropes knotted in their units.

It is said that after the old Berber allowed photographers in the fifties home, tourism has become a major livelihood of the local population. For profit are organized folklore exhibitions in some homes. For tourists there are Berber customs - they feast with sweet mint tea and baked on stone thin cakes that melt in olive oil and honey.

Matmata is especially polpular once in the 70s here was shot the trilogy "Star Wars". Since then, the tourist flow has not stopped. In these lands Indiana Jones was looking around the cave for the Lost Ark. The desert around Matmata is the romantic backdrop of the "English patient".

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