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Yes, you read that right, Tataouine is indeed a real place. Fair enough, it's not spelled in quite the same way as Luke Skywalker's home planet, but it was nonetheless the inspiration. Tatouine is one of the southernmost towns in Tunisia, on the fringes of the Sahara. It's been a bit of a film star lately too...

It's no wonder that Lucas was inspired when he came here - what a strange place it is. Alien-like landscape and architecture, every bar was the Star Wars bar, and I don't think I saw a single woman the whole time I was there. Many of the sights are out of town, so I rented a taxi for the day to check them out.


Although not classic Sahara, the desert landscape around Tataouine is evocative, even with the odd date tree.

Ksar Ouled Soltane is perhaps one of the weirest places around Tataouine, a very well preserved ancient granary, which doubled as Mos Espa where Luke Skywalker grew up. It was good fun climbing up the little flights of stairs.

Ksar Ouled Soltane

Ksar Ouled Soltane

Sticks and platforms on the outside of the granary cells were used for hoisting and landing grain.

Unfortunately there's not a lot to see inside the cells, but for some ruined built-in pottery.

Ksar Ouled Soltane

Ksar Haddada

Some distance away is Ksar Haddada, at which more Star Wars was filmed. The modern mosque in the background here looks almost like an alien building.

Some of the ksar had been coated in roughcast, more in fitting with Ksar Ouled Soltane.

Ksar Haddada

Ksar Haddada

Inside Ksar Haddada, this area used to be used as a restaurant for the time that the ksar was briefly operated as a tourist hotel.

More of the old hotel section - many of the rooms had electrical fittings but it all looked still pretty basic.

Ksar Haddada


Onwards to Douiret, an abandoned village which stretches up a steep cliffside.

View of the lower part of Douiret and the odd surrounding landscape.



As the village crumbles away, the multi-arched structure of the cells is revealed.

Chenini was the last stop for the day, another ostensibly abandoned village, but this one was crawling with tourists, whereas Douiret was empty. I managed to get beyond the crowds right to the top and walk over that little bridge on the right.



Back in Tataouine town itself, and all the blokes were out at the marketplace. On the mountainside behind, strangely reminiscent of the Hollywood sign, they have a big "Marhaba" welcoming all.

Hundreds of colourful plates for sale.


La Gazelle Hotel restaurant

Again I can't remember the name of the hotel I stayed in, but it was in the south part of town, and right next door to La Gazelle hotel. I went there for dinner, and was the only customer all night. The French chef was more than happy to cater for me, and it was indeed a very good meal.

The patio outside La Gazelle Hotel. It certainly added to the weirdness of my experience in Tataouine, but the hotel were nice enough to set me up with a taxi and driver for the day.

La Gazelle Hotel

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Copyright © Ross Wattie 2008