The Pueblos Magicos (Magic Towns) program was initiated by the Mexican government to help preserve towns that embodied the best of Mexican culture, history and tradition. Launched in 2001, the program provides financial assistance to places that "reflect the beauty of traditional Mexican culture" according to Tourism Secretary Rodolfo Elizondo. The program has met with stunning success in terms of increasing tourism and bringing a much needed cash injection into these areas. Currently, there are 34 towns that are officially listed as Pueblos Magicos. If you want to experience Mexico's rich history and architectural past then these places are definitely worth visiting.
The name gives it away but the town of Tequila is famous for producing one of Mexico's most iconic drinks. Located 60 kilometers to the northwest of Guadalajara - Mexico's second-largest city - Tequila was named a Pueblo Magico in 2003.
Historically, Tequila has led a proud history of revolt from the Spanish Conquistadores who founded the town in 1530. The local indigenous population organized an uprising in 1541 but it was soon quelled before the end of the year. A period of stability ensued until the beginning of the 19th century when another native uprising under the leadership of a man called Mascara de Oro or Golden Mask tried to wrestle power from the governor of Nueva Galicia but again that attempt failed. Finally, in 1810, a band of 200 insurgents managed to take Tequila under their control and soon after it was awarded town status within the newly independent republic on March 27, 1824. It was consequently elevated to city status in 1874.
The first distillery in Tequila began operating in 1600. Blessed with endless fields of blue agave - the source of the tequila drink - the town and its surrounding regions harvest more than 300 million plants each year. Under Mexican law only the state of Jalisco and limited parts of Guanajuato, Michoacan, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas have the right to produce the drink.
The popularity of Tequila and it's namesake product has led to a cottage industry in tourism. In 1997, the Guadalajara Tourism Secretariat launched the Tequila Express, a high-speed train from Guadalajara to Tequila that provides a fantastic view of the blue agave fields. The 68-seater train has four luxury carriages emblazoned with images of the blue agave plant and because of the high tourist demand it is recommended to buy tickets at least a month-and-a-half in advance. There are also optional packages that include tours of Tequila's best known distilleries.
What To See
At the heart of Tequila is the church Templo de Santiago Apostol. This 17th century building is a glorious example of neoclassic architecture and boasts a statute of Saint Toribio Romo - the patron saint of Mexican migrants who was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2000 - in its atrium. Toribio Romo has a special place in Tequila's history. He fought as a priest during the Cristero War in the mid-1920s and was eventaully shot dead by federal soldiers in Tequila where he had been in hiding with his family. As a saint, Toribio Romo is especially popular with migrant workers crossing the border into the United States. Today, there is a church erected in his honor in Tequila known as the Templo de Santo Toribio Romo.
A trip to Tequila isn't complete without visiting its national museum which details in pictures, words and film the town's rich history as the number one producer of Mexico's most popular export. There are countless bottles on display of all types of tequila and the museum itself is situated in a restored 19th century hacienda.
Types of Tequila
Here is a breakdown of the different categories of tequila available in the market:
Blanco (white) or plata (silver) – white spirit, un-aged and bottled or stored immediately after distillation, or aged less than two months in oak barrels;
Joven (young) or oro (gold) – un-aged "blanco" tequila, blended with rested or aged tequilas, and often with caramel coloring, sugar-based syrup, glycerin, and/or oak extract added so as to resemble aged tequila;
Reposado (rested) – aged a minimum of two months, but less than a year in oak barrels;
Añejo (aged or vintage) – aged a minimum of one year, but less than 3 years in oak barrels;
Extra Añejo (extra aged or ultra aged) – aged a minimum of three years in oak barrels. This category was established in March 2006.
Jalisco Tourism Secretariat
Av. Morelos 102, Plaza Tapatia, Centro
Tel: (333)668 1602
Tequila Tourism Office
Jose Cuervo 33, Centro
Tel: (374) 742 0012
Where To Stay
La Casona Plaza Jardin
Jose Cuervo 13, Centro
Tel: (374) 742 0061
Abasolo 47, Centro
Tel: (374) 742 3233
Carr. Internacional 63, col.
Centro. Tequila, Jalisco
Tel: (374) 742 1592
Casa Dulce Maria
Abasolo 20, Centro
Tel: (374)742 3200
Where to Eat
Sixto Gorjon 105, Centro
Tel: (374) 742 1037
El Meson del Mezcal
Sixto Gorjon 152, Centro
Tel: (374) 742 0476
Albino Rojas 116, Centro
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