Richard the Lionheart, King of England, arrived in Nicosia, Cyprus, in May 1191 during the Third Crusade. He had been shipwrecked on the island while on his way to the Holy Land. The ruler of Cyprus, Isaac Comnenus, demanded that Richard pay a ransom for his freedom and that of his men; Richard refused and instead captured the island's main port, Limassol. He then marched on to Nicosia, where he defeated Isaac's forces and took control of the city, installing a friendly ruler. Richard stayed in Nicosia for several weeks, during which time he strengthened the city's fortifications and prepared for his onward journey to the Holy Land.
Archaeological excavations in the area of the modern city hall describe the history of a building called Church B in Nicosia, which has two main architectural phases dating back to the Middle Byzantine period and the Medieval period. The building was initially a compressed cross-in-square type church that was later destroyed by fire and rebuilt in the same area as a single-aisled vaulted church. The evidence suggests that at least the initial phase of Church B was the Catholicon of a Middle Byzantine monastery of Nicosia, providing insight into the city's religious and cultural history.