The Travels by Marco PoloMarco Polo (1254-1329) has achieved an almost archetypal status as a traveller, and his Travels is one of the first great travel books of Western literature, outside the ancient world. The Travels recounts Polos journey to the eastern court of Kublai Khan, the chieftain of the Mongol empire which covered the Asian continent, but which was almost unknown to Polos contemporaries. Encompassing a twenty-four year period from 1721, Polos account details his travels in the service of the empire, from Beijing to northern India and ends with the remarkable story of Polos return voyage from the Chinese port of Amoy to the Persian Gulf. Alternately factual and fantastic, Polos prose at once reveals the medieval imaginations limits, and captures the wonder of subsequent travel writers when faced with the unfamiliar, the exotic or the unknown.
What Are Some Marco Polo Quick Facts?
In , three years after he returned from his journey, Polo was captured after leading a Venetian galley into battle against the rival Italian city-state of Genoa. While in prison he encountered Rustichello of Pisa, a fellow captive who was known as a talented writer of romances. Eager to document his years as a traveler, Polo dictated his life story to Rustichello, who acted as a kind of ghostwriter. By the time of their release in , the two men had completed the book that would make Marco Polo a household name. Marco Polo may be the most storied Far East traveler, but he certainly was not the first.
Marco Polo was an Italian merchant, explorer, and writer, born in the Republic of Venice. His travels are recorded in Livres des merveilles du monde, a book that described to Europeans the wealth and great size of China, its capital Peking and other Asian cities and countries. Take a look below for 30 more fascinating and interesting facts about Marco Polo. Polo learned the mercantile trade from his father and his uncle, Niccolo and Maffeo, who traveled through Asia and met Kublai Khan. In , they returned to Venice to meet Marco for the first time. The three of them embarked on an epic journey to Asia, returning after 24 years to find Venice at war with Genoa.
The slow road to China
When Marco Polo left on his Asian trip to the court of Kublai Khan with his father and Uncle, he was only 17 years old. In , three years after his return, Polo was made a gentleman commander of a Venitian ship.
In , they returned to Venice to meet Marco for the first time. The three of them embarked on an epic journey to Asia, returning after 24 years to find Venice at war with Genoa ; Marco was imprisoned and dictated his stories to Rustichello da Pisa , a cellmate. He was released in , became a wealthy merchant , married, and had three children. He died in and was buried in the church of San Lorenzo in Venice. Though he was not the first European to reach China see Europeans in Medieval China , Marco Polo was the first to leave a detailed chronicle of his experience. This book inspired Christopher Columbus  and many other travellers.