A ‘galaxy far, far away’ could be closer than you think… Thanks to a combination of other-worldly lunar landscapes, intriguingly primitive architecture and huge expanses of sparsely populated desert, Tunisia has provided the Star Wars films with numerous locations. Four of the six movies feature scenes shot across the north African country, most memorably as the setting for the twin-mooned planet of Tatooine, Luke Skywalker’s home.
While Star Wars was never a big hit in Tunisia, the locals have cottoned on to the franchise’s popularity, leaving most of the sites and specially constructed sets largely intact.
You’ll find a couple of these on the beautiful, upscale beach resort and island of Djerba, ever-popular for Tunisia holidays and recently ranking as the fourth fastest growing tourist destination in the world.
The remote dwelling of ‘that crazy old man who lives in the sand dunes’, AKA Ben ‘Obi Wan’ Kenobi, can be found just outside the ferry port of Ajim, in western Djerba. The place where Ben counsels a restless Luke in Episode IV is a simple, low ceilinged stone hut that’s used as a fisherman’s storage shack.
While the scenes were shot to look like Ben hides away deep in the desert, the hermitage is actually located on an attractive piece of shoreline near the Gulf of Gabes. But don’t take any chances and keep an eye out for sandpeople!
Venture some 17 kilometres north to find the place where Luke’s landspeeder whizzes into Anchorage en route to Mos Eisley. Sidi Jermour is a large complex of whitewashed buildings that’s very much in use today as a mosque with a temple, a shrine and courtyard. It’s an important hub for the local village population, who are largely oblivious of Star Wars, so be sensitive to this when you visit. It also featured in an establishing shot for Anchorage that was later deleted.
Mos Eisley Cantina
The infamous bar described by Obi Wan as ‘a wretched hive of scum and villainy’ where one unfriendly local gets on the wrong side of Kenobi’s lightsaber can also be found on Djerba. You won’t find much debauchery here on your Tunisia holidays – it’s currently disused but recently housed a bakery. Most of the interior scenes were actually filmed in London and Hollywood studios, but you can still peek inside. The low vaulted ceilings remind some visitors of Jabba the Hut’s Palace, but those scenes were filmed elsewhere.
Mos Eisley Spaceport
Ajim, with its ruined domes and dusty alleyways, also features as various spaceport locations, including a stormtrooper checkpoint and an alley where the Millennium Falcon once beat a hasty exit.
Other Djerba Highlights
Once you’ve blasted your way through these Star Wars sights, make sure you also take the time to enjoy some of the island’s other attractions.
The Royal Carriage Club Riding School is an excellent place to saddle up for some Arabian equine action, catering for horse jumping and dressage practice alike.
The Djerba Explore Park is one of two animal parks on the island, where you can safely watch the many native crocs at their ferocious five o’clock feeding time.
Quad biking is huge in Tunisia and Quad Evasion and Passion is thought to be one of the best centres to try this fun activity. Their two hour coastal trek has you merrily bumping your way along the sand dunes.
The island of Djerba has plenty to offer holidaymakers visiting North Africa’s sun-spoilt Mediterranean coast, whether you’re in search of the real Tunisia – complete with desert shores and plenty of off-the-track exploring – or just fancy seeing your favourite Star Wars locations in the flesh.
Have you visited Djerba or any of the Star Wars sites in Tunisia? What are your tips for other movie destinations around the world? Let us know in the comments below!