Historic Travels Of A Venetian Explorer Across The Silk Route

No description of Silk Road is complete without the mention of probably the greatest Western explorer and traveler who graced this route and chronicled his journeys in such vivid detail. He travelled on this route in 1271 when he was just 17 years old towards China accompanying his father and uncle. The adventures that he dictated later describe beautifully all about Chinese culture, economy, and politics of that time. His description inspired numerous Western travelers to follow his example and visit China and this in turn influenced European navigation greatly.

Silk Route was for centuries one of the most influential trade openings that connected a network of roads from Europe to Asia. For the Western countries, this was the way to connect with the major civilizations of that time in India, China, near Europe and the East. Diplomatic missions, trade caravans, merchants and representatives of various religious sects along with warriors and dervishes used this road frequently. It was a difficult path going through waterless desert but nothing daunted these fearless people.

One of the most famous persons to grace this road was of course Marco Polo who has given a fascinating glimpse of the Eastern world of yore through his interesting chronicles. By reading his adventures, the modern generation gets as awestruck as he was, the ‘Spellbound Wanderer’. He was inspired to embark on this highly difficult journey by the stories they heard from his father and uncle who had preceded him on the Silk Route. They were Venetian merchants who went to the court of Kublai Khan and kept waxing eloquent regarding the riches they have seen and the luxuries they experienced.

Marco accompanied his elders to China two years after their initial travel and they were bearing message from Gregory X, head of Catholic Church to Kublai Khan, the Emperor of Mongolia. Mongolian Empire was the most powerful of them all along this route during the 13th century. It spread across Western and Eastern Turkistan in Central Asia, Northern China, Mesopotamia, Iran, Eastern Europe and Caucasus. The Khan Empire controlled the market of that time which sold furs, fabrics, jewelry, along with different luxury items.

Early on, this market was the biggest attraction for Asian merchants before it caught the eye of West European traders. The route Marco and his father and uncle travelled took them through Israel/Akka, Persian Gulf then towards north across Iran and Amu Darya, to Aral Sea/Oksus. From then onwards they went on through Palmer Mountains, modern Sinkian in Uigur, and finally across Gobi Desert and Shangtu. When they reached the court of Kublai Khan, the great emperor was quite impressed with the young traveler and made him his envoy.

This was a great opportunity for his inquisitive spirit to see the proceedings of the court and beyond from a close range. The descriptions of his journey and experiences are an invaluable documentation of that time that still offers inexhaustible fodder for modern researches. You too can bring out the exploring spirit residing within you and get inspired from Marco Polo travel. For more information, visit the website, Thestepsofpolo.org.

About The Author


Sheena Timberlake is an expert historian who has studied the life and travels of Marco Polo in great detail. She likes to write many interesting articles and blogs on the topic and recommends TheStepsOfPolo.org as the most trustworthy website to find accurate information about the traveller.

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