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Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The Amazing Underground Village of Matmata

In Tunisia, 450 km south of the capital of Tunis, lies the small but impressive village of Matmata, the largest community of troglodytes (people who live in caves) in the world. The name Matmata comes from the Berber tribe that lives in this area of the country.

The history of how and why this place was first built is unknown but instead there are many stories regarding its beginnings. The most popular one says Matmata was born a long time ago, shortly after the Punic Wars, when the Romans sent two Egyptian tribes to the region and gave them permission to slaughter the locals and make the land their own. The original inhabitants left their homes and fled to the desert where they built new ones into the ground. They would leave their well disguised homes at night and attack the invaders until they managed to drive them away.

 Other stories say this ancient settlement was born 700 hundred years ago when the people just couldn’t handle the burning sun. The whole village turned into an underground labyrinth where the homes were linked through intricate tunnels. The temperature inside one of these troglodyte homes remains constantly between 20-22 degrees Celcius during both summer and winter.

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