The Order of Merced are known as the first to establish a male monastery at the former Santiago de Guatemala. The cross in stone at the atrium, along with the rooms behind the main altar, are the oldest structures in all of La Merced, which date back to the seventeenth century. In 1749, architect Juan de Dios Estrada was granted permission to begin construction of the luxurious architectural masterpiece. In the end result, he constructed a building of low height, a strong gelish design and wide arches and columns, which made it much more capable of withstanding earthquakes that often occur in Guatemala. To this day, La Merced Church is still praised as one of the most influential structures throughout Guatemala.