In The Phantom Menace, the Tatooine settlement of Mos Espa was where Anakin Skywalker — the immaculate antichrist of the Star Wars universe — built C-3PO and practiced his force lightning on stray womp rats. But in real life, the Mon Espa set — which is 40 kilometers from Tozeur, Tunisia, — is the home to folks who moved in after shooting wrapped 13+ years later. The Japanese website Rocket News 24 visited this spot, and here's what they found:

In Tunisia, people actually live in the abandoned set of The Phantom MenaceS

Many scenes taking place in the city were shot in the middle of the desert in a region called Oung el Jemel. The set is still in good condition and is composed of 15-20 buildings, though some are only facades. While there is absolutely nothing around the set, we were surprised to find that some people had actually set up residence in some of the buildings. One person was even selling souvenirs! While most of the set pieces still seemed very sturdy, we were disappointed to find that all the machinery and gadgets were made from wood and plastic.

The team also shot footage in Matmata, a.k.a. the location of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru's homestead a.k.a. the current location of the Hotel Sidi Driss. An overnight plus breakfast costs around $10, but expect to pay out the nose for blue milk from the minibar.

[Rocket News 24 via Boing Boing]