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Matmata – Underground City In Tunisia

Updated on August 17, 2011

Matmata is really astonishing underground town which you must visit at least once in your life. In our modern world the skyscrapers are everywhere, so you will be definitely surprised that there are still some people who prefer to live underground. Matmata is situated in Tunisia about 450 km south for the capital of the country. The impressive town is the largest community of troglodytes, people who live in caves and underground. The name of this interesting town comes from the local barbarian tribe who live in the area.

It is not clearly known why the town was built and what its purpose was, but there are many legends and stories about the creation of this marvelous town. One of the most popular versions about the founding of the town is that many centuries ago, during the Punic War, the Romans sent two Egyptian tribes in the area with permission to kill the local people in order to gain the power over the region and built their own cities. That’s why most of the locals fled the region and moved their households deep into the desert where they can be safe. They built their new homes underground, covered well their homes and started a war with the invaders. After many years of war they finally managed to expel the enemies from their home territory.

According to another legend, the amazing underground town was built about 700 years ago with the only purpose to save the people from the burning rays of the hot desert sun. This is great evidence about the glory and the opportunistic thinking of the local tribes. Soon after that the small houses into the rocks were connected with tunnels and nowadays, you can easy see how brilliant and interesting Matmata is. It is amazing that the temperature in these troglodyte dwellings remains constant around 20-22 degrees during the whole year.

Another really curious fact about the town is that it existed more than 1000 years without the knowledge of the rest of the world. The town was rediscovered in 1967 when the homes were flooded because of a heavy rain and the inhabitants were forced to ask for help the government of Tunisia. Most of the houses were completely destroyed, but thanks to the financial help of the country the town was rebuilt and accessible for the millions of tourists.

There are more than 100 underground homes in Matmata, but they act like a real magnet for thousand of tourists every year. For most of them the place looks like exactly the same as the scene form the Planet Tatooine from "Star Wars" of George Lucas. You can easily feel the life underground. You can rent a house and try to live like troglodyte. The hotel called “Sidi Driss" will give you this great opportunity.

It is kind of hard to reach Mamtata, but that will make your journey even better. First of all you have to arrive in the capital of Tunisia and they you can hire a car or take the bus. The trip will be definitely one of the best in your life. You will have many possibilities to learn more about the culture and the traditions of the Tunisian people. Enjoy it.


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  • profile image

    solomia 5 years ago

    Wow. That is so coolio!

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    eliziabeth 6 years ago

    Nice pictures. When i went Tunisia we only had time to visit the capital and i would love to go back.

  • White Sapphire profile image

    White Sapphire 6 years ago from New England, USA

    Awesome pictures. When I went to Tunisia we only had time for the capital, but if I ever get the chance to go back I would like to explore the interior.