Marco Polo: The Adventurer Who Traveled the Silk Road

Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant and explorer who lived in the 13th century.

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He is best known for his travels to Asia, where he spent many years exploring and documenting the cultures and customs of the region.

In this article, we will explore the life and legacy of Marco Polo.

“Polo’s account is therefore important in that it provides us with a glimpse into a world that was still largely unknown in Europe at the time he wrote, but which was soon to become a major focus of European interest and exploration. His descriptions of the geography, customs, and trade of the East, including China, were a significant contribution to the knowledge of the medieval world.”

Frances Wood, British historian and author specializing in Chinese history and culture.

Early Life and Family Business

Marco Polo was born in Venice, Italy, in 1254. His father, Niccolo Polo, was a successful merchant who frequently traveled to the Middle East and Asia.

Marco’s uncle, Maffeo Polo, also traveled with Niccolo on many of his journeys. When Marco was just six years old, Niccolo and Maffeo left on a journey to Asia, and they did not return for 24 years.

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Journey to Asia

In 1271, Niccolo and Maffeo Polo returned to Venice, and they brought Marco with them on their next journey to Asia. They traveled along the Silk Road, a network of trade routes that connected Europe to Asia. They visited many cities and countries, including Persia, India, and China.

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“Marco Polo stands out as one of the most famous and influential explorers in history, known for his extensive travels through Asia and his detailed account of his experiences there. His writing not only provided Europeans with a wealth of information about the East, but also helped to inspire further exploration and trade with Asia in the centuries to come.”

Morris Rossabi, American historian and expert on the Mongol Empire and Central Asia.

Life in Asia

Marco Polo spent many years living in Asia, where he became fluent in several languages, including Chinese. He worked as a diplomat and a trader, and he gained the trust of the Mongol ruler Kublai Khan. Khan appointed Marco as a special envoy to represent him in various diplomatic missions throughout Asia.

Return to Venice and Writing “The Travels of Marco Polo”

After spending 24 years in Asia, Marco Polo returned to Venice in 1295. He became involved in the city’s politics and was eventually imprisoned during a war with Genoa.

While in prison, he met a fellow prisoner, Rustichello da Pisa, who helped him write “The Travels of Marco Polo.” The book detailed Marco’s travels and experiences in Asia and became a bestseller in Europe.


Marco Polo’s travels and writings had a significant impact on European perceptions of Asia and helped to increase trade and cultural exchange between the two regions. His book was also an important source of information for explorers and adventurers who followed in his footsteps.

Marco Polo’s legacy continues to inspire people today, and he is remembered as one of the greatest explorers in history.


Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant and explorer who traveled to Asia along the Silk Road and lived there for many years. He gained the trust of the Mongol ruler Kublai Khan and became a special envoy for him.

After returning to Venice, he wrote “The Travels of Marco Polo,” which became a bestseller in Europe and had a significant impact on European perceptions of Asia. Marco Polo’s legacy continues to inspire people today, and he is remembered as a great explorer and adventurer.

5 Great Books about Marco Polo

Here are five great books about Marco Polo and his travels:
“The Travels of Marco Polo” by Marco Polo – This is the primary source for information about Marco Polo’s travels, written by Polo himself.

“Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu” by Laurence Bergreen
This biography of Marco Polo traces his journey from Venice to China and explores his encounters with people and cultures along the way.

“The Silk Road: A New History” by Valerie Hansen
This book provides a broader perspective on the Silk Road, the network of trade routes that Marco Polo traveled, and the cultural exchange that occurred along it.

“Marco Polo: The Journey that Changed the World” by John Man
his book focuses on the impact that Marco Polo’s travels had on European perceptions of Asia and the world.

“Marco Polo and the Discovery of the World” by John Larner
This book explores the historical context of Marco Polo’s travels, including the political and economic factors that motivated them, and their impact on European understanding of the world.