The traveler and writer Marco Polo

The traveler and writer Marco Polo left Venice for Cathay (now China) in 1271, spent seventeen years in Kublai Khan’s (1215–1294) empire, and returned to Venice in 1295. His account of his experiences is one of the most important travel documents ever written. Marco Polo was born around 1254 into a prosperous merchant family in the Italian city-state of Venice. His father, Niccolò, and his uncle Maffeo had left the year before on a long-term trading expedition. As a result, he was raised by extended relatives following his mother’s death at a young age. Niccolò and Maffeo first spent about six years in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey), which had been under Latin control since the Fourth Crusade of 1204.

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