When Pedro de Valdivia established Santiago de Nueva Extremadura in 1541, part of his entourage were brothers from the Order of Mercy. They built their first church in 1566. It was destroyed in an earthquake in 1647. The second structure met the same fate by a quake in 1730. Thirty years later this red Catholic church with beige trim was finished. The twin towers of the Basilica de la Merced were added in 1859 and 1885. The Basilica of Mercy has been a National Monument since 1977.