Dubrovnik

Marco Polo

more than a year ago

The name Marco Polo is synonymous with travel and adventure. While he is undoubtedly one of the greatest characters from history, some details of his life remain a mystery. For example, it is acknowledged that the great adventurer was born in the year 1254 but it is not known exactly where. Written evidence show that the Polo family lived on the island of Korčula in the 15th century, and Venetian historical records from the same time confirm that the Polo family name has its roots in Dalmatia. Confusion on the exact place of his birth is somewhat understandable since the Republic of Venice at the time encompassed much of the land which now occupies modern Dalmatia, including the island of Korčula. So, with Venice as the most powerful economic force from the 12th to the 18th century, it was not uncommon for many families from Dalmatia to move to and settle in the town of Venice — as did the Polo family after Marco’s
birth.

Marco Polo’s chronicles to the Far East began in 1271 when he took up the mercantile family business with his father Nicola and his uncle Mateo. Although Marco’s father and uncle had made the journey before, they reached the summer residence of their patron Kublai Khan in Shangdu four years later in 1275. Marco became an envoy and special advisor in the service of the great Mongolian ruler for 17 years. His extensive travels throughout Asia enabled him get a picture of the different cultures, traditions, and even the geographical layout of the majority of the
Asian continent. Marco’s time in Asia came to an end, and his long way back home began, when he agreed to travel to the western reaches of the Mongolian empire in order to accompany a Mongolian princess to Persia.

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