by Lydia Schrandt for USA TODAY 10Best

See how magical Tequila, Mexico really is on this virtual tour

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Tequila is known around the globe as an iconic spirit, made from blue agave. It’s also the name of a town in Mexico’s state of Jalisco, at the very heart of the tequila-producing region.

Photo courtesy of Guadalajara CVB

A favorite way to arrive in Tequila is aboard the Jose Cuervo Express. One of Mexico’s few remaining passenger trains takes visitors from Guadalajara to the town of Tequila.

The town of Tequila has been granted Pueblo Magico (Magical Town) status by the Mexican government for its cultural richness, historical relevance and other travel-worthy qualities.

Photo courtesy of Guadalajara CVB

Tequila’s main plaza is home to a beautiful historic church, the Parroquia Santiago Apostol. The 18th-century Baroque structure features a bell tower, Doric columns, and a Neoclassical main altar.

The rolling agave fields have become an iconic image of Jalisco. Tequila begins with this blue-green plant – a large succulent with spiky leaves.

After a plant has matured for several years, its heart (piña in Spanish) is removed to make tequila.

Agave farmers, known as jimadores, use a pointed shovel to harvest the agave, removing its spikes and extracting the heart. The harvested piñas weigh anywhere from 80 to 200 pounds.

Once harvested, the agave piñas get baked in traditional brick ovens to help soften them and begin converting their carbohydrates into fermentable sugars.

These sugars are extracted using a tahona (a giant grinding wheel) traditionally operated by mules.

Photo courtesy of Guadalajara CVB

The word “cuervo” is Spanish for “crow.” Pay a visit to the Jose Cuervo distillery in Tequila, and you’ll see a large statue of a crow guarding the entrance.

Photo courtesy of Guadalajara CVB

A highlight of a visit to Mundo Cuervo (and Tequila) is a tour of Fábrica La Rojeña. The oldest operating distillery in the Americas has been producing tequila since the 18th century.

Photo courtesy of Guadalajara CVB

If you’ve ever wanted to spend the night in a giant tequila barrel, you’re in luck. The Matices Hotel de Barricas, one of the most unique in the town of Tequila, features 30 barrel rooms.

This state of Jalisco in the western part of Mexico is also home to the colorful city of Guadalajara and several other Pueblos Magicos.

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