Star Wars location spotting in Tunisia
When you say Star Wars, most people think of galaxies far far away. But all these exotic planets from the movies were filmed on earth. Four of the Star Wars movies were partially filmed in southern Tunisia (the planet Tatooine in the movies) and the good thing is that many of the locations are still in relative good state.
You can stay in Luke Skywalker's home (now a hotel) and wander around the desert bumping into moisture vaporators and other Star Wars stuff around the Mos Espa set.
Because Star wars is not well known in Tunisia, this article will introduce you to some famous locations from the movies and show you how to get there. So when you go on vacation to Tunisia, check out some of the locations over there. Sometimes you’ll think you are on Tatooine instead of Tunisia.
Hint: Open a new tab showing Google Maps next to this page. Copy/paste the given Lat/Long coordinates in Google map's searchbox to see the Star Wars locations on a map.
Djerba is a Tunisian island. It's well known for its resorts and beach vacations. Two movie locations can be found on the western side of the island. Ben's hermitage and Toshi Station.
Lat/Long coordinates 33.740833,10.734951
This little house is actually used by fishermen as a storage. In Episode IV it can be seen as the house of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Lat/Long coordinates 33.831411,10.747936
Sidi Jemour is a temple, located some miles north of Ben’s house. It was seen in the movie as Toshi Station in Anchorhead, in a shot where the landspeeder rushes into Anchorhead on its way to Mos Eisley.
Tozeur is an oasis and a city in south west Tunisia. The city is located North West of Chott el-Djerid, in between this Chott and the smaller Chott el-Gharsa. With hundreds of thousands of palm trees, Tozeur is a large oasis. The dates that are exported from Tozeur are well known. From Tozeur you can make trips on a camel, explore the Sahara and get to know the Chott el-Djerid, where you can see fata Morgana's. Furthermore Tozeur is the place to be for Star Wars fans, because there are lots of movie locations around the city: the Lars Homestead exterior, the Mos Espa set, the Sith infiltrator landing site and Star wars canyon.
Lars Homestead Exterior
Lat/Long coordinates 33.842823, 7.779038
Luke's home is located 35km out of Tozeur at Chott El Jerid. Chott El Jerid is part of the vast dry salt lake flats that cover 5,000 sq km on the West side of central/southern Tunisia near Algeria. The little igloo is standing here in the middle of nowhere. Because the Lars Homestead interior scenes were shot somewhere else, the crew had to dig some craters next to it, to make you believe there's actually an underground structure in the movie.
The igloo was taken apart after the shooting of the first trilogy but was rebuilt for Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Some memorable scenes were shot here, including Shmi Skywalker's funeral in Attack of the Clones, and the final shot of Revenge of the Sith. It's a good idea to visit this location near the evening. When the sun sets in the middle of the desert and with the little igloo as the only structure nearby, you'll get a spectacular view.
Lat/Long coordinates 33.994296,7.842677
This set was built from nothing in the middle of the desert, and still stands. This is not a typical studio tour. Most Tunisians haven't even seen the Star War's movies, but they recognize that there's more value in just leaving the props alone and keep them in good state, than removing them.
You can see the whole town: the gates of Mos Espa; the Pod-racing arena; the gallery and the Mos Espa streets with Watto's shop, the market and Sebulba's Café. Get there early in the morning and you could have the place to yourself.
A few hundred meters away from the set you'll find the Yardangs: protruding bits of sandstone that look like shark fins peeping out of the desert. The Jedi duel between Qui-Gonn and Darth Maul in Episode I was shot here.
Sith infiltrator landing site (Oung Jmel)
Lat/Long coordinates 34.015353,7.911444
About 6km East of the Mos Espa set lies Oung Jmel, better known as the camel head rock. This was the site were Darth Maul arrived on Tatooine and released the Sith Probes to search for Queen Amidala’s ship. The same location was used for Maul flying over the cliffs after having found Anakin and Qui-Gon.
Lat/Long coordinates 34.033572,8.281771
23km North-East of Tozeur you can find Sidi Bouhel, better known as the Juntland Wastes in the movies. This canyon was used in 1976 for no less than 9 shots. Lucasfilm named it "Star Wars Canyon". Also the canyon was used in Raiders of the Lost Ark and in The English Patient.
In front of the canyon entrance, you'll see the Sandcrawler parking lot. The inside is a narrow gorge walled by two hundred foot high cliffs and a wide, flat wadi that runs from Jebel Krefane down to the chott. In the gorge Luke was being attacked by Tusken Raiders, and met Obi-Wan Kenobi for the first time. Just outside the mouth of the gorge Imperial Stormtroopers attacked and massacred the Jawas who sold the droids on to Uncle Owen.
Ksar ouled soltane
Lat/Long coordinates 32.788361,10.514989
Our next destination is Tataouine, located in the south of Medenine. The planet Tatooine got its name from this town, and that's about the town's only contribution to the movie. Most of the scenes were shot in the hills and villages surrounding the town. A little further south is located Ksar Ouled Soltane a beautyful ghorfa (grain storage facility) that was used to as a background for some of the Slave Quarters shots in Episode I.
Anakin Skywalker's home
Lat/Long coordinates 33.347272,10.492051
Medenine is the major town in southeastern Tunisia. The main attraction in Medenine is Ksar Medenine, an ancient Berber fortified granary. North of Ksar Medenine is the granary that acted as the slave quarters in Episode I. It was used as the exterior the Anakin Skywalker's home in many shots.
Lars homestead interior
Lat/Long coordinates 33.54253,9.967341
In Matmata you can actually sleep in Luke's home. The Hotel Sidi Driss served as the interior of the Lars homestead. Aunt Beru's kitchen is still there, but except for some fiberglass and wooden frames, and the fresco on the dining room ceiling, you won't find any props. Even so, it is easy to get excited when sitting in the very same dining room that the Lars family used. The hotel also has a well stocked bar with lots of Star Wars memorabilia and a Star wars inspired menu.