Star Wars: The Prequel Trilogy – On Location in Tunisia

In the summer of 2001 Prop Store team member Brandon Alinger traveled to Tunisia in search of the original filming locations for Star Wars: ANH, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the Star Wars prequels. Seventeen-year-old Brandon managed to convince his parents the trip would make an ideal family vacation, and spent a week traveling the country and seeing the Star Wars sites. While many fans have visited the Tunisian locations over the years, at that point there had only been a handful of visitors and information was scarce. Gus Lopez had a website dedicated to Star Wars locations, and Jeremy Beckett had produced a guidebook which covered many of the sites.

At the time, the prequel-era sets were freshly redressed for Attack of the Clones, which had been shot recently but would not be released until the following May. “I can’t tell you how exciting it was to arrive at the Hotel Sidi Driss. The photos I had seen of it online showed it long-stripped of the original dressing from A New Hope, but when we arrived it was completely rebuilt as the Episode 2 set. There hadn’t been any photos of it leaked online, so I had no idea what was waiting there,” says Alinger. “The Mos Espa set was another highlight–a complete Star Wars city in the middle of nowhere…desert as far as you could see in every direction.”
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Exterior of the Lars Homestead set outside of Nefta, circa 2001.  The set was constructed and filmed on about 9 months earlier, for the production of Attack of the Clones.

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Note the deterioration of the Garage roof, constructed in wood and plastic, in such a short time.

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The real city of Tataouine obviously provided inspiration for Lucas.

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Ksar Medenine was dressed by the set decorators to represent Anakin’s home in The Phantom Menace.

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Ksar Hedada, where Qui-Gon talks to Schmi Skywalker about Anakin’s abilities.

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This smaller Mos Espa set, located outside of Tozuer, is a replica of Ksar Hedada.  This is where Anakin fires up the podracer for the first time.

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Note the damage to the set circa 2001.  The set was constructed for The Phantom Menace in 1997.

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Large pieces of set dressing from Mos Espa had since been hauled into Nefta.

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The large Mos Espa set circa 2001.  The set stands alone, surrounded by nothing but flat desert for miles on all sides.  It had been recently re-dressed for use in Attack of the Clones even the moisture vaporators were still standing.

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The building with the two conical towers is the exterior of Watto’s shop.

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The architecture, all built from 2x4s, chicken wire, and plaster, is copied from the Tunisian architecture found on Djerba that represented Mos Eisley in the original Star Wars.

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A wide view of the set.

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The interiors of the buildings were used as paint shops, wardrobe storage facilities, etc.

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Different styles of moisture vaporators built from wood and plastic.

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The view out of Watto’s doorway.

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Looking back through the same doorway.

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