If you happen to be in the vicinity of North Africa sometime during your travels, you might find it useful to pay a visit to Matmata, Tunisia. Just outside of town is the still-preserved set of A New Hope, and you’d be in for a great experience, as this article details. A French speaking local, without money or family, moved in to the set and now acts as a sort of curator:
As I peered inside one of the impeccably built constructions, I noticed a mattress and a small teapot on the sand floor. In a mere moment, the “owner” of the house was there: an elder Arab man dressed in a typical desert fashion.
Surprisingly, his French was perfect and he explained to me that since he had neither family nor money, he came to live in the movie set. He looks after the place, the real roof of the fake house protects him from the sandstorms, and if a tourist throws him a small coin every once in a while, he can buy some more tea and some food. And he is hardly the only one living in the Lucas-built wonderland in the middle of the Sahara.
But in town — at Matmata — is the famous hotel Sidi Driss, site of both the Lars home and the famous intergalactic cantina.
Not only did we sleep and eat at the troglodyte place, we stayed at the troglodyte hotel, Sidi Driss, which was used as the actual house of Uncle Owen and Aunt B, the underground home of Luke Skywalker in the “Star Wars” movies.
It is said that Matmata is the only town on our planet where the hotel is the main attraction, and I totally believe it.
Sidi Driss used to be a real troglodyte house, and in the beginning of the ’70s it was transformed into the hotel. When Lucas came to Tunisia to shoot the original “Star Wars,” he came across the hotel and liked it so much, that not only did he sleep there; he also built additional “space” decorations inside the structure to shoot the necessary scenes.
Having consumed both the food and the info, we left the “restaurant” and took numerous pictures near the real Skywalker memorabilia — the interior of the hotel. Then we went into the “Star Wars Bar” — a small pit in the hotel used to film the famous bar scene, and continued our investigation over the fancy-spacey-named cocktails.
The bar was basically a secret “Star Wars” fan-club, containing dozens of hand-written journals, countless newspaper clips, pictures and other pieces of documentation proving over and over again that yes, Luke and his entourage were here!
Edit: link no longer works, so it’s archived here.