The Travels of Marco Polo

441 Words2 Pages
The famous explorer Marco Polo was born in the year 1254 to a family of merchants. Even then, the city where he was born--Venice--was a center for commerce and trading in the Mediterranean region. Because Marco's family was wealthy, he received a good education, learning about classical authors, the theology of the Latin Church, and both French and Italian. He also developed an interest in history and geography that would stay with him for the rest of his life. When Marco was only six years old, his father Niccolò and his uncle Maffeo left for a journey to Cathay (China). By the time they returned, he was 15. When Marco was 17, he accompanied his father and uncle on their second journey to Asia. They had an advantage over other travelers of the time: the emperor Kublai Khan had presented them with a golden tablet a foot long and three inches wide, inscribed with the words "By the strength of the eternal Heaven, holy be the Khan's name. Let him that pays him not reverence be killed." The golden tablet was like a special VIP passport, authorizing the travelers to receive horses, lodging, food and guides as they required. They had a long and difficult odyssey, mostly on horseback, to reach China. The Polos traveled through Armenia, Persia, and Afghanistan, over the Pamir Mountains, and along the Silk Road, the main travel route for traders. Marco kept detailed journals, where he recorded his impressions of the terrain. When he first saw the great Gobi Desert, more than 500,000 square miles (805,000 km) of sand, he wrote: "This desert is reported to be so long that it would take a year to go from end to end... There is nothing at all to eat." The Polos stopped for a year in the Mongol region, where they learned about the lives and civilization of the people there. When the Polos reached Cathay to stay with the emperor Kublai Khan, Marco impressed the ruler with his

More about The Travels of Marco Polo

Open Document