Marco Polo, the great merchant

Born in 1254 in Venice, Marco Polo is one of the most famous and important travelers in the history of mankind. His travels and adventures turned novel in the book The Travels of Marco Polo are important references in world history and literature.

It is difficult to rely on the little information that exists about the origins of Marco Polo and his family. One may consult some authoritative documents originating from Venice, however, many other documents and writings are nothing more than rumors and legends.


Belonging to a family of merchants, Marco Polo learned everything about merchandising in his hometown, thanks to his father Niccolò. During one of the trips that Marco Polo did with his father, it is said that he met Kublai Khan, the last great Khan of the Mongol empire. This political connection allowed him to serve Mongolia and China, making trips through Asia, knowing Armenia, Persia, and Afghanistan, crossing the Silk Road. Thanks to its relationship with the Khan, he is said to became governor of the city of Yangzhou, China before returning to Venice in 1295.

During this time, Venice was at war with the Republic of Genoa. Because of this, Marco Polo was imprisoned, allowing him to meet the writer Rustichello of Pisa. It is said that Rustichello is the true writer of Marco Polo’s adventures. The Travels of Marco Polo was a very popular book among merchants and traveling salesmen of his time, and was even the inspiration of Christopher Columbus, who possessed a copy.

Thanks to Marco Polo, the world met customs, myths, and other aspects of the Asian culture. These stories make the first real testament to the way of life of Chinese, Japanese, and Indian civilizations, among others.