In the 8th century BC, Cotyora (Κοτύωρα) was founded by the Miletians as one of a string of colonies along the Black Sea coast. The Diodorus Siculus write that it was a colony of the Sinopians. Xenophon's Anabasis relates that the Ten Thousand rested there for 45 days before embarking for home. Strabo also mentions it. Under Pharnaces I of Pontus, Cotyora was united in a synoikismos with Cerasus. Arrian, in the Periplus of the Euxine Sea (131 CE), describes it as a village "and not a large one." Suda mentioned that it was also called Cytora (Κύτωρα).
The area came under the control of the Danishmends, then the Seljuk Turks in 1214 and 1228, and the Hacıemiroğulları Beylik in 1346. Afterwards, it passed to the dominion of the Ottomans in 1461 along with the Empire of Trabzon.
The modern city was founded by the Ottomans as Bayramlı near Eskipazar as a military outpost 5 km (3 mi) west of Ordu.
In 1869, the city's name was changed to Ordu and it was united with the districts of Bolaman, Perşembe, Ulubey, Hansamana (Gölköy), and Aybastı. At the turn of the 20th century, the city was more than half Christian (Greek and Armenian), and was known for its Greek schools.
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