The main reason to visit this town—and lots of tourists do—is to see the underground houses. They look like meteor craters from the surface, but down in the holes (30-40 ft/10-13 m below) you'll find windows, doors and ladders—some even have camel-driven oil presses operating down there. (Do be respectful when looking, for these are the people's homes.) There are also adequate hotels in Matmata (some underground), but the hotels favor coach tours, so independent travelers can find themselves without a place to stay when the large coach tours arrive. Hotel Marhala contains the interconnected caves and pits used as the setting for Luke Skywalker's home and the eerie alien disco in the film Star Wars.

About 3 mi/5 km away, in the town of Haddej, are more underground dwellings and an underground mosque. While it is more difficult to get to, Haddej has fewer tourists and very few aboveground buildings. Haddej is reached on foot from Matmata (arrange for a guide at the tourist office in town). Matmata is 280 mi/450 km south of Tunis.

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