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Marco Polo

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Portrait of Marco Polo

Marco Polo (1254-January 8, 1324) was an Italian trader and explorer. He was one of the first Europeans to explore East Asia. Many other explorers, including Christopher Columbus, looked up to him. He could speak four languages.[1]

Early life

Marco Polo was born in Venice, one of the most successful trading cities.[2] Polo's mother died when he was young, and he was raised by his aunt and uncle. His father Niccolo Polo took him on his first journey to Cathay (China). His family were well-known merchants, not explorers. He learned about writing, reading, and arithmetic, and how to do business.[1]


Polo went on a 24-year trip to China with his father and uncle during the Mongol Dynasty. He left Venice the age of 17 on a boat that went through the Mediterranean Sea, Ayas, Tabriz and Kerman. Then he travelled across Asia getting as far as Beijing. On the way there he had to go over mountains and through terrible deserts, across hot burning lands and places where the cold was horrible. He served in Khan's court for 17 years. He left the Far East and returned to Venice by sea. There was sickness on board and 600 passengers and crew died and some say pirates attacked. Nevertheless, Marco Polo survived it all.

Some scholars believe that while Marco Polo did go to China, did not go to all of the other places described in his book. He brought noodles back from China and the Italians came up with different sizes and shapes and called it pasta. Polo returned to Venice with treasures like ivory, jade, jewels, porcelain and silk.[1]

Later life

Soon after Polo returned from his journeys he fought in a war against Genoa, got captured and put in prison, When he was in prison he became friendly with a prisoner, Rusticello, who was a writer of romances and novels. He told the writer about all his adventures. Rusticello wrote down his words which became a book called The travels of Marco Polo, and became famous throughout Europe. In his book he wrote about Kublai Khan's wealthy, new empire that had a postal system. He also wrote about the Chinese people. China used paper money that was made from mulberry bark.[1]

Marco Polo’s nickname was Marco Il Milione, due to an ancestor of his called Emilione. He is actually one of the wealthest people there was.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 McNeese, Tim. "Polo, Marco." World Book. World Book, 2013. 27 Feb. 2013.
  2. Stockdale, Nancy. "Marco Polo." ABC-CLIO, ABC-CLIO, 2013. 27 Feb. 2013.