Even though I kept saying ‘No Star Wars” our driver was determined to take us to KSAR OULED SOLTANE which was used as the film set for the slave quarters in The Phantom Menace.
This is set in stoney desert a few miles from Tataouine the inspiration for the name 'Tatooine' in the series. It is an area with little vegetation and few houses.
The Ksar is built on a low ridge next to a big Mosque. It was a Friday and all the men were sitting waiting to go to the Mosque. To our surprise we were the only tourists around.
The Ksar is an impressive four storey building which has two courtyards. Traditionally the ghorfas (rooms) were covered with plaster. When Ksar Ouled Soltane was restored concrete was used which was painted to resemble plaster. Unfortunately it is beginning to show its age. There are a lot of big staircases leading to the upper ghorfas. These are built as an arch to make them less steep. Stones set in the wall help reach doorways without a staircase. There are alleyways in corners.
The building is no longer used for storage and many of the wooden doors have gone, so you can peer into the bare rooms inside.
There are two small art galleries based in the ghorfas in the inner courtyard. Our arrival had been spotted and we were quickly approached by the owners trying to sell us water colour paintings. One was very pushy and we didn’t like his pictures. He then tried to sell us a painting on a stone but we told him it would exceed our baggage allowance. The second person was less pushy and we liked his pictures. He had the sense to let us look and choose at our leisure. There were some very nice pictures and we chose a small one for Star Wars fan son-in-law.