Iglesia San José was the first church in the New World. Dominican Order friars began building it in 1532. The Catalan structure evolved for the next two hundred years. In Plaza de San José is a statue of Juan Ponce de León. The Spanish explorer had strong ties to Iglesia San José. While the first governor of Puerto Rico, he donated the land for the construction. When he died in 1521, he was initially buried in Havana. Then his body was interred in San José Church from 1559 until 1836 when it was transferred to the Cathedral of San Juan Bautisa. The 15 foot statue of the conquistador was created in 1882 using British cannons captured during their attack on San Juan in 1797.