5600 kilometers In May 1275, the Polos landed to Kublai Khan's initial headquarters, Shang-tu (then the summer house), and then the winter palace at his capital, Cambaluc (Beijing). It had been three and a half years since they had left Venice, and they had traveled a total of 5,600 kilometers. The journey had taken them across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
They returned home after five years, having seen all of China and much of the world. But their stories were not enough to secure their freedom, because when they reached Venetian territory, they were captured by Chinese officials who were taking revenge for the death of their master, who had been killed by the Polos while they were away from Kublai's court. They were taken to Beijing, where they were tortured and then executed.
China was once known as "the center of the world" because its geography made it a natural hub for trade routes between Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. But now that there is an industrial revolution in Europe, this role is being taken over by the Europeans.
Before the Polos' trip, no Westerner had ever seen anything beyond the eastern borders of China. Now that they had come back from their expedition, they told about their travels throughout Asia, which showed that China was a huge country with extraordinary landscapes.
From 1271 to 1295, Polo traveled extensively with his family, traveling from Europe to Asia and staying in China for 17 of those years. He wrote about his experiences during this time in a book called The Travels of Marco Polo. The book was first published in Italian in 1350, but it has been translated into many languages and is still read today.
Marco Polo was born in 1254 in what is now China. His father was a wealthy merchant who had become a member of the government as an adviser to the king. When Marco was 10 years old, his father died. Since then, he has been under the care of his mother and two brothers.
He began his travels at age 30 along with his mother, wife, and children. The party traveled across Asia from west to east for a year before returning home via France and Italy. They stayed away for three more years after which time Marco decided to go again, this time with his sons. However, his third expedition was interrupted when he was imprisoned for helping the son of the ruler he was traveling to free. He was released in 1279 after agreeing to write a book about his adventures. He completed his book in 1290 but didn't publish it until 1350 because of political unrest in Italy at that time.
When the Polos arrived in Cathay to visit Emperor Kublai Khan, Marco impressed him with his understanding of Mongol traditions. To reach Cathay, the Polos had journeyed 5600 miles (9000 km) in three and a half years. At that rate, it would have taken them nearly eight years to complete the trip.
In fact, they returned home after only five years, but this was because they had decided to turn around and head back to China when they found out that the war between the two countries had ended. When they reached China again in 1298, they reported that it took three years to reach Cathay from Europe.
Kublai welcomed the Polos into his palace three and a half years after they left Venice, when Marco was around 21 years old. The precise date of their arrival is uncertain, although academics believe it was somewhere between 1271 and 1275. What is known is that they were given an important post in the court of Kublai and that they went on many journeys with him.
During their time in China, the Polos traveled across most of the empire in order to trade with other rulers. They visited Japan, India, Indonesia, and Africa, among others. In fact, according to some historians, they may have been the first Europeans to visit some of these places. They returned to Europe in 1295, when they reached Venice after an adventurous trip that took them through many dangers.
Besides trading, the Polos also explored China. They traveled throughout the country from north to south as well as east to west, which shows how valuable it was for the Chinese emperor to hire them. They met many different people along the way and heard about other cultures who had never been seen or heard of before by Europeans. For example, they wrote about the great cities of Beijing and Xi'an, which no one else had ever seen before.
In addition to writing about their travels, the Polos also told stories about China that made its culture interesting for readers back home.
Examine the true life of this great explorer to distinguish reality from fiction.
Polo began his journey in Venice, Italy in 1268 at the age of 23. His father had just been appointed governor of Genoa, a city on the Italian coast, so the family went there to take up their new position. While in Genoa, Polo's father died, leaving him responsible for the management of his large estate and job insecurity. This is when he decided to leave for East Asia to seek his fortune.
Polo first set out for the Middle East where he hoped to make some money by trading spices for silk. However, after only a few months in that region, he realized that the best way to make money was to be a merchant traveler. He returned home to Venice and then left again, this time for Jerusalem where he tried his hand at trading silver for wool with local merchants. After a year in the Middle East, he found that business wasn't profitable enough to stay in, so he returned home again.
In the summer of 1271, after another short stay in Venice, Polo set out for North Africa where he planned to trade gold for ivory.