With the support of European Franciscans, the Flemish Friar Joost de Rijcke, known in Spanish as Jodoco Ricke and Friar Pedro Gosseal – who came to the city two years after its founding – acquired land to the west side of the city’s main plaza. This plot was where the palace of the Incan ruler Atahualpa (1497-1533) had once stood. In addition to being a market center for indigenous Ecuadorians, it was also the location of the military seats of the chiefs of the indigenous armies. All told, the place had enormous strategic and historical significance for the indigenous people the Franciscans wanted to evangelize.
It is not known who designed the original plans for the complex, though the most-accepted theory is that they were sent from Spain, based on the topographical study of Ricke and Gosseal. It is also possible that architects came from Spain for the construction of the monastery, or that Ricke and Gosseal managed the entire construction.[clarification needed]
The Church underwent a major (US$2M) interior renovation between 2000 and 2010.