Marco Polo

A drawing of Marco Polo (

1 Marco Polo (C.1254-1324) was one of the greatest and most influential explorers in Western history. He travelled down the Silk Road to China with his father and uncle at the age of seventeen and wrote about his great travels along the way. During his stay in China, Marco was a diplomat and personal envoy for Kublai Khan. Marco wrote about his findings in China and his impressions of the beautiful country most European folk had never seen before. Today Marco Polo's books of his travels are honoured among historians and inspired many explorers.

Early LifeEdit

Marco Polo was born on September 15th, 1254 in Venice Italy. He was raised by his aunt and uncle because his mother died while he was at a young age. Marco's fathers name was Nicolo Polo and his uncles name was Maffeo Polo. At age six, Marco's father and uncle set off on their first trip to Cathay China to meet with the emperor Kublai Khan. Growing up Marco was very interested in the practices of different people, different rare plants and animals and even studying the natural resources at the time. He could speak both French and Italian very fluently, which was great when he was learning how to trade when he was younger with his father and uncle. The Polo family were Nobles and acquired great wealth through trading. Marco had received the normal education a boy would have had during the time which included: learning how to read classical texts, studying the bible, math, history and literature ( At age fifteen Marco's father and uncle had returned from China bringing back jewels and more wealth to the family. At age seventeen Marco, his father and uncle set off to China together on a diplomatic mission for Pope Gregory X in 1271. He journeyed through Asia for twenty four years.

His Journey to ChinaEdit

Marco Polo began his journey to China at the age of seventeen in the year 1271. Marco, his father, uncle and two friars were on a diplomatic mission for Pope Gregory X but the two friars turned back after reaching a war zone. Their initial route was down the silk road but during their three year trip they took many other routes. According to Marco's book The Travels of Marco Polo, (Polo Marco) their route to China was, passing through what is now modern day Israel to the Persian Gulf then north through modern day Iran to Amu Darya. After their extensive journey on land they took to the sea. Marco, his father and uncle took a boat to Oksus in the Aral Sea. After Oksus the brothers and Marco went through the Pamir Mountains which is where modern day Sinkian is located. Finally reaching the Gobi Desert Marco Polo said to his father and uncle "This desert is reported to be so long that it would take a year to go from end to end; and at the narrowest point it takes a month to cross it. It consists entirely of mountains and sands and valleys. There is nothing at all to eat" (Polo Marco). Despite the danger of crossing the desert Marco knew the Mongols had established a safe route to cross the desert during their reign. After crossing the Gobi Desert the first major city they passed was Suchow which Marco, his father and uncle stayed at for a year. A year later in 1271, Marco Polo met the great Kublai Khan and his father and uncle met him for the second time. Their vast journey all the way from Venice took a total of three years.

Their Stay in ChinaEdit

China had arts far beyond anything found in Europe and Marco was astonished by his surroundings, writing everything he could down in his book of w
Mongol passport

This is a picture of the passport given to Marco Polo by Kublai Khan. (

hat he saw. China was far more advanced than Europe was at the time. China had paper, books of philosophy, religion and politics could be found in a large encyclopedia. Their were many mechanical devices and paper money was a widely accepted currency by many across the empire. This country was far more different than the place that Marco Polo called home ( The Polo brothers and Marco were welcomed kindly by Kublai Khan. Kublai Khan was especially interested in Marco and took a liking to the young explorer. Kublai gave Marco authority to be his personal envoy and Marco received a passport made of gold which allowed him to travel freely throughout the Mongol empire ( Using the power and authority Kublai Khan gave Marco, he travelled to many territories across the Mongol empire carrying out many tasks for Kublai which were mainly focused on diplomatic assignments. During Marco's trips around the empire he learned the lifestyles of the people and wrote about his findings and impressions in his book ( In 1277 Marco was named official of the Privy Council by Kublai Khan. In 1292 after staying in the Mongol Empire for twenty years and serving Kublai Khan for seventeen Marco and his family decided it was time to head back to Venice. Marco, his father and uncle had one final mission for Kublai on their way back to Venice, they had to escort a Mongol Princess to Iran where she would be wed (

The Journey Back HomeEdit

After a long stay in China for twenty years, Marco and his family finally set their course back to Venice but had to escort a Mongol Princess to Iran while on the
Marco polo's route to china

The route Marco Polo took to China and back. (

way. They decided to take a different route back to Venice, instead of going by land the Polo's decided to go by sea. While on the voyage to escort to the Mongol Princess to Iran, 600 passengers died, the voyage took two years to complete and when they landed in Iran they were told news that the prince had died so the princess would have to marry the prince's son. They were also informed that while on their journey home their once great friend Kublai Khan had passed away. Marco, his father and uncle then arrived back in Venice in 1295 (

The Good News and The Bad NewsEdit

Upon their return Marco Polo told of many of his findings while exploring Asia such as jade, porcelain, silk, ivory and other riches of China. Marco described the festival for the Emperors birthday, how the clothing they wore was golden and how the dances and ceremonies were performed. Finally he described how many of the people used coal for fuel. Unfortunately since many Europeans haven't been to Asia many did not believe the stories Marco Polo told and he was given the name "the man of a million lies" ( Unfortunately also during that time Venice was at war with the Genoese, Venice's main trade rival. Some time after 1298 Marco Polo was captured during a regional war and imprisoned, fortunately his cell mate was Rustichello of Pisa a writer of romance and lore. Marco told his stories to Rustichello who was astounded by his tales of lore. Rustichello later wrote Marco's stories into a book called "A Description of the World" ( Years later Marco and his cell mate Rustichello were released from prison and Marco's stories were known around all of Europe.

Death and LegacyEdit

Marco Polo died January 8th, 1324 at the age of 69. After Marco Polo's death, many explorers started reading his books and were influenced by Marco's great stories. Marco's book was published in many languages and sold throughout Europe. One of the greatest explorers of all time Christopher Columbus was even influenced by Marco's stories and it helped him discover Western civilization. Marco's legacy did not only come from his books though, he also established an important link between Europe and China. Marco and his family also brought back many ideas that they discovered in China such as porcelain, silk, ivory and even some of their culture. Marco was also an excellent map maker and charted his way to China quite accurately based on his surroundings ( On Marco Polo's death bed, a priest asked him if he wanted to admit if his stories were fake but Marco replied, "I do not tell half of what I saw because no one would have believed me" Marco Polo.

Works Cited or ConsultedEdit

Digital image. Web <>

Digital image. Web <>

Digital image. Web <>

"HBC Biography: Marco Polo." Historic Clothing: Expanded Site. Web. 22 Dec. 2010. <>.
Marco Polo the explorer

This is a picture of Marco Polo. (

"In the Footsteps of Marco Polo: A Journey through the Met to the Land of the Great Khan | Explore & Learn | The Metropolitan Museum of Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: Web. 22 Dec. 2010.

"Life of Marco Polo." Italy: Italian Tourism Informations- Informacion Sobre Italia. Web. 22 Dec. 2010. <>.

"Marco Polo - Great Silk Road." Advantour: Tourism in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia : Travel Guides. Web. 22 Dec. 2010. <>.

"Marco Polo - Greatest Adventurer, Biography and Facts." Italy Travel Guide, About Italy Tourism & Tourist Information. Web. 22 Dec. 2010.

"Marco Polo and His Travels." Web. 22 Dec. 2010. <>.

"Marco Polo in China: 1275-1292." Then Again. . . Web. 22 Dec. 2010. <>.

"Marco Polo." Index. Web. 22 Dec. 2010.

"Marco Polo." Middle Ages. Web. 22 Dec. 2010. <>.

"Marco Polo." NNDB: Tracking the Entire World. Web. 22 Dec. 2010. <>.

"The Travels of Marco Polo and His Influence on the Western World." APA Essay Format. Web. 22 Dec. 2010.

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.