Marco Polo became famous for his many travels, starting with a trip to Asia that began in 1271. His book about his travels became one of the most famous travel books in history. THE BETTMANN ARCHIVE Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
Marco Polo They called him “the man with a million stories.” People flocked to Marco Polo’s home to hear him tell exciting tales about his travels in distant lands. Marco Polo won fame for his journeys across Asia. He wrote a book about his travels that became one of the most famous travel guides in history. EARLY LIFE Marco Polo was born in 1254 to a family of merchants. His home was Venice, Italy. Venetian merchants bought and sold valuable Chinese goods, including precious silk cloth. Such goods were brought to Europe along an ancient route known as the Silk Road. The merchants also used the route to travel east on trading missions. Marco’s mother died when he was a young boy. His family taught him to be a merchant. He learned how to read, write, calculate, and use foreign money. In 1269, Marco’s father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo, returned to Venice after visiting China. In China, they had met the Mongol conqueror Kublai Khan. The khan invited the Polos to return. He asked them to bring Christian scholars to explain the Christian religion to him.
TRIP TO CHINA In 1271, Niccolò and Maffeo set out for China again. Marco, then 17 years old, joined his father and uncle for the trip. Two priests also traveled with the Polos. But the route was dangerous, and the priests soon turned back. It took the Polos four difficult years to reach China. The journey led across deserts and high mountains. They passed through wild countryside where bandits lurked, ready to rob and kill. They braved heat and cold, floods, deep snowdrifts, and blinding sandstorms. At last they reached the summer palace of Kublai Khan at Shangdu. The khan welcomed the Polos warmly. He offered Marco a...
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