are packed in the bone-dry valleys of southern Tunisia, in the Djebel Dahar district of the Berber-talking town of Matmata.
The houses lay in a cratered scene spotted with palm trees and olive forests. The homes, made of earthen cast, give assurance against the district’s burning summer warmth and winter winds.
The houses are created by digging a large pit in the ground, between 15 to 30 feet deep. Artificial caves are then dug around the perimeter of the pit to be used as rooms. Some homes form a large underground maze as multiple pits are connected by trench-like passageways. In the courtyard, family members to do chores and meet. The center of some pits are also reserved for a well about 20 feet deep for underground water supply.
It is believed that the city of Matmata has been populated for about 700 years. Some historians claim that the village was originally used for defensive purposes, having served as shelter for the Fellagas, groups of armed militants affiliated with anti-colonial movements in French North Africa.
These traditional underground troglodyte structures were hidden for centuries and no one had any knowledge of their existence until 1967.
Though intensive rains have flooded some houses and caused many of them to collapse, troglodyte homes in Matmata are still a popular tourist attraction. When Sidi Driss hotel, a troglodyte home converted into a hotel, was used as part of a Star Wars set in the 1970s, it quickly became a unique tourist hideaway.