Travel Through Maps & Narratives: An Exhibit on Travel & Tourism
Marco Polo (c.1254-1324)
Marco Polo’s travels and subsequent narrative brought him much wealth and fame. His travels inspired many maps and further expeditions, including those of Christopher Columbus. Marco Polo was the son of the Venetian traveler Niccolo Polo, who made a journey to Kublai Khan’s court in the 1260s. Beginning in 1271, when Marco was still a teenager, he accompanied his father on a return journey across the Eurasian continent. His personal travel narrative laid the foundation of the European vision of Asia. It was the first widely circulated account of any extensive travel in the Far East. Marco described novel technologies such as paper money and the burning of coal, as well as his journey to the Khan’s court in Xanadu, in modern day Inner Mongolia. Marco’s work was a primary source of information about the Far East used by Fra Mauro in the creation of his famous world map of 1459. In addition to the writings of Arab geographers, his work was a strong influence on this important map.