ONG JMAL (Nefta): The port city of Mos Espa in Tatooine.
In the middle of the Tunisian desert, in municipality of Nefta (50 kilometres east of the city of Tozeur) it stands Ong Jmal, also referred to as Ong Jemel.
Two words that in English mean “camel’s neck” because the huge rocky formation at the top of this mountain reminds visitors of this animal.
Back in the 90’s, this exact same spot was used as a filming location for the British film The English Patient.
But coming back to Star Wars, Ong Jmal is also the reference point to arrive to the filming set of Mos Espa, only 8 kilometres to the east.
In the Star Wars universe, Mos Espa is a space port city located in the dry and remote planet of Tatooine. And also the place where Anakin Skywalker and his mother Shmi Skywalker lived as slaves. Its characteristics round constructions were built from scratch to meet the needs of the film Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
The crew returned to this filming location to shoot the sequel (Episode II: Attack of the Clones) specifically the scenes where Anakin comes back to Tatooine with Padmé after his vivid nightmares.
When all the filming was finally done, Mos Espa was abandoned by the crew. However, the set was turned into a touristic attraction. Now everyone can visit this part of the galaxy (for a moderate price)!
CHOTT EL DJERID (Nefta): Lars family homestead exteriors.
Only 25 kilometres south of Mos Espa it appears a strange vision: An igloo amongst the dunes.
This peculiar structure is what Stars Wars turned into the Lars family homestead. Well, better said, only the exteriors of the place Luke Skywalker was raised in.
In the movies, this homestead was a moisture farm on the Great Chott salt flat on the planet Tatooine. And at this point fiction becomes reality because this set is built on the west lakeshore of Chott el Djerid, the largest salt pan of the Sahara Desert.
The truth is that this is not the first time George Lucas gets his inspiration to name a place in the galaxy from the real world.
Lucas had in mind naming the planet of all this locations “Luke Utapau”, but after visiting the city of Tataouine (360 kilometres south of Chott el Djerid) he changed his mind. And the planed was finally named Tatooine.
Who would’ve thought that this iconic filming location was left to the mercy of the sand and the wind for years up until 2012, when a group of fans raised money with a project called ‘Save the Lars Homestead’ to restore it. Never underestimate a fan’s Force.
The indoor scenes set inside the Lars homestead were filmed in a hotel located 260 kilometres from this location. You know… movie magic.
Click on the ‘Activities’ button to discover a selection of tours and experiences in these Star Wars sets. Let the Force be with you in your trip to Tunisia!
It is worth mentioning that near this area it lies Sidi Bouhlel. Also known as ‘the Stars Wars Canyon’ where several scenes of both Episode I and Episode II were filmed, as well as Raiders of the Lost Ark.