Born in the year 1254, Marco Polo was perhaps one of the greatest travellers and merchants that the world has witnessed. He hailed from Venice and started his travels at the tender age of seventeen. He is still remembered for his courage and determination and the vigour with which he enthusiastically travelled to various places in search of trade and new lands.
His travels in the Asian continent have made him immortal even after so many centuries. He is best respected for his expeditions to China and Mongolia which were hitherto unknown to the Europeans and opened up new trade opportunities for the West. His book narrates the experiences that he had during his famous journey to China through the Silk Road.
The Italian genius went to Asia in 1271 accompanying his father and his uncle who too were traders and explorers. It was in Asia that he came to be known as the blue eyed boy of the Mongolian ruler Kublai Khan. Through the next 24 years he travelled extensively all over the continent of Asia. He travelled across Mongolia and took extensive trips to China.
He discovered and travelled to parts of China that were hitherto unknown to the Europeans and his daring determination helped introduce the West to those areas in China that were untraded till then. After this he decided to return home to Venice through the Persian route in 1295.
On his return home, Marco Polo became famous for his travels to the unknown and far away land of the East. People longed to listen to the exciting and enchanting stories of his adventures in the Far East and came to his house in large groups to hear the stories of his adventures.
It was in 1298, that Polo was imprisoned by the Genoese as a result of the ensuing conflict between the Venetians and the Genoese. It was at this time that the famous book called 'The Travels of Marco Polo' was written by a writer with dictations from the man himself while he was in the Genoese prison. Polo was a family man with three daughters to him he gave much of his property after his death.
The great man fell fatally ill in 1323 and was completely bed ridden because of the illness and the weakness that it caused to him. Many doctors treated the legend and tried their best to keep him living but Polo gave in to his illness and on the 8th of January 1324, Polo breathed his last. He was buried in San Lorenzo as that was where he wanted his cremation to take place.
The book that Marco Polo left behind was perhaps his biggest contribution. The detailed account of his travels opened up new trading opportunities for his future generations. Europeans developed an interest the Far East and began to aim at establishing trade relations with China and other lands that lay in the Far East.
His travels brought closer to the West the mysterious and mythical land of the East and made it accessible to the future Europeans who now wanted to find easier and shorter sea routes to these places.
He revealed the riches that lay confined to the East which turned the attention of westerners to these prosperous lands that they wanted to conquer and trade with. Explorers like Columbus based their expeditions to the East on Polo's experiences as recorded in his book.
In Polo's memory and honour places like the Marco Polo airport in Venice, the sheep named Marco Polo and various other books and films were named and made after him!