The Last Families Living in Tunisia's Underground Houses

Reuters photographer Zohra Bensemra recently spent time in southern Tunisia's Djebel Dahar region, where locals have lived in underground homes for centuries.  The cave houses, also known as troglodyte houses, offer protection against the extremes of summer and winter in the arid desert. A cluster of these crater-like homes can be seen in the village of Haddej on Google Maps. Most of theses cave homes can be found around Matmata, which gained fame as a filming location for Luke Skywalker’s home in the 1977 movie Star Wars. Reuters reports that fewer of these underground homes are now used, with some falling into disrepair: “In recent decades, rural depopulation has meant fewer people live in the homes, which are composed of rooms hewn into the walls of an excavated circular courtyard. The few remaining families say they are attached to the homes and the land or see no way of moving.”

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Todd Kennedy

    The 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest

    A selection of entries from this year’s competition, which is open for submissions until November 15

  • Eric Thayer / Reuters

    Photos: The Woolsey Fire Leaves Devastation in Malibu, California

    The Woolsey Fire and the nearby Hill Fire have forced the evacuation of nearly 250,000 residents from their homes near the Pacific Coast in California’s Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.

  • Eric Miller / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: Midterm Elections, Flaming Barrels, Diwali Lanterns

    A visit to the Swiss Museum of Transport, NATO soldiers on patrol in Afghanistan, autumn colors pass their peak in the North, Bonfire Night across England, and much more

  • Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty

    The Camp Fire Ravages Paradise, California

    Within 24 hours, the Camp Fire has burned more than 20,000 acres, and has virtually destroyed the town of Paradise.