Marco Polo was born in Venice in 1254 into a family of merchants.
The father Nicholas and his uncle Matthew
had already made a long journey for commercial purposes between 1260 and 1269 in Central
Asia until the city of Bukhara. In that place, far more than 5000
kilometers from their hometown, they had stayed for 3 years by continuing
their trades. Until the dignitaries of the Great Kublai Khan contacted
them, inviting them to meet their lord, the Emperor of China.
The Polo brothers went to Persia and then across China to Beijing,
where they met, finally, the Great Khan. Kublai was the grandson of
Genghis Khan, but did not have the same spirit of fierce warrior.
He asked the two brothers to deliver a letter to the Pope with a
request that 100 monks were sent to convert the Mongols to Christianity.
The two brothers returned to their hometown after a long journey, but
the demands of the Great Khan were not heard by the Pope.
The brothers Polo then decided to take another trip to China but this
time accompanied by the young Marco who was only 17 years old. They set
in November 1271, Marco Polo could not imagine that his trip would
last 24 years. The three Venetians had many adventures and dangers
to face, it takes 30 months to arrive in China for some stretches
along the Silk Road. Marco Polo got in S. Giovanni d'Acri, and then
went on to Persia, then to the highlands of the Pamir, Turkmenistan,
the Gobi Desert and was finally in Beijing where he was welcomed with
all the honors by Kublai himself. The Great Khan was in sympathy with Marco
Polo. At the Great Khan service for 17 years, Marco
Polo had a great opportunity to travel along China while the father and
his uncle continued their trade. He could know so distant lands
such as Tibet, Siam, Burma and the Indochinese peninsula as well as many
Chinese provinces. He was able to speak five Asian languages
correctly. After all those years spent away from home Marco Polo asked
several times for permission to return, but it was always denied. Finally got the big
opportunity. Kublai entrusted to him one last task:
to accompany to Persia a princess that had to marry the king of that
Country. It was prepared a fleet of 14 ships that departed in January 1292
from the port of Zadon, Marco spent nearly two years to get there. Marco
Polo sailed to the coast of China, then down to Indochina, Malaysia, Sumatra
and India. He arrived in Ormuz and from there reached Tabriz, Trabzon,
Istanbul and finally Venice. The three travelers were not recognized when
returned, too much time had elapsed since their departure. But finally they
were celebrated and honored by their family for the wealth that had brought
After returning Marco Polo continued its merchant activities, until in
1298 he was made prisoner by the Genoese army in the naval battle of Korcula.
The period of imprisonment of Marco Polo in Genoa was only one year, but was for him
a fortune. Marco Polo knew in prison Rustichello da Pisa to which
dictated "The Million" , the book that would have handed down in history
as the greatest traveler of all time. In this book, he told
his extraordinary adventures and described the places he had visited
during his long journey. For many he was not believed. At that age was not easy
to imagine that could be real the "stone burning" (coal) or the "black water
that burns" (oil). However Christopher Columbus almost two centuries later
was inspired by Marco Polo. He was convinced that it could reach the
great sea of China (Pacific Ocean) traveling to the West, and ended up arriving
in a continent (America), which was unaware of its existence. Who asked
him to retract his allegations of forgery, Marco Polo said that he had not
told even half of what he had seen. Marco Polo died in Venice in 1324.
The house of Marco Polo is located in the nearby of St. John Chrysostom Church,
at three-minute walk from the Rialto Bridge. It was located in the same area
where now stands the Teatro Malibran. A marble engraving reminds us that this
house (see photo) was owned by Marco Polo and his family.
The life of Marco Polo was told by a beautiful television serial drama
created by Giuliano Montaldo in 1982, which received a huge success with
the public. The role of protagonist was entrusted to Ken Marshall.
The International Airport of Venice is called Marco Polo in homage to the
great traveler and is located at Tessera. It has replaced starting from 1967
the historic Nicelli airport located in S. Nicolo del Lido.
Cheap hotel in Venice