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Marco Polo

Marco Polo Marco Polo’s father Niccolò and uncle Maffeo were Venetian merchants, who had already travelled to Asia before Marco was born. In 1271, they set out from Venice on another journey to the Far East. This time, 17-year-old Marco accompanied them. The journey to China took more than three years. China was ruled by the great Mongol emperor Kublai Khan. Marco Polo made a good impression on him and became his loyal servant. For the next 17 years, Marco travelled around the Mongol Empire, reporting back on what he saw. In 1292, the Polos left for Venice, escorting a Mongol princess as far as Hormuz. On his return home, Marco Polo wrote an account of his experiences—although almost no one believed him.



Route of Marco Polo's journeys (1271–95)
Crossing the Persian Desert. In the Polos’ time, travellers were often attacked by bandits who stole their goods. It was safer to...Read More >>Crossing the Persian Desert. In the Polos’ time, travellers were often attacked by bandits who stole their goods. It was safer to cross the desert in a large group, called a caravan. At night, the travellers camped together for protection.

From Persia to Pamirs

In 1271, the Polos sailed from Venice to Acre (Akko, in modern-day Israel). They then journeyed by camel to Hormuz (in modern-day Iran). The boats they saw there looked too flimsy for travel by sea, so they continued their journey overland. They followed the Silk Road through the Persian Desert. It took them 40 days to cross the Pamir Mountains in Central Asia, during which time they saw no other people.
Pamir Mountains
Crossing the Gobi Desert

Gobi Desert

After the publication of his book, The Description of the World, Marco Polo became widely known as Il Milione (“The Million”), for the million lies people accused him of telling in his stories.

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