Primary Source

Marco Polo’s Travels

Map of Asia showing the lands Marco Polo traveled to.

Annotation

Macro Polo lived from 1254 to 1324. He spent twenty-four years journeying through the Asian continent and left behind an impressive amount of documentation including travelogues of his adventures. He recorded his travels in the manuscript is the Les voyages de Marco Polo de Venise (The Travels of Marco Polo). He reached further than all of his contemporaries and predecessors and traveled through all of China. Polo is known for his travels as a westerner on the Silk Road. This image shows Marco Polo’s travels [on a modern map]. While traveling to these new lands he provided detailed descriptions of the lands he encountered and sometimes his perceptions of the people that lived on those lands. Sometimes he provided names for the places he visited. The documentation and maps of his travels significantly influenced European’s perceptions of the Asian continent. In some cases, they affected these future travelers’ successes and how they would navigate their own voyages. He was not always accurate in what he recorded. Many maps that were constructed after his voyages were a reflection of Polo’s writings. The image here, for example, is from a 1902 book titled The adventures of Marco Polo, the great traveler. Students might also ponder how the trip of Christopher Columbus, who used Polo’s writings as a guide, might have ended differently had he not read them. This travel narrative can also be a good source to learn about some of the perceptions that Europeans had of foreign places.

This source is a part of the Analyzing Travel Records methods module. 

Credits

Polo, Marco, The adventures of Marco Polo, the great traveler. edited by Holden, Edward Singleton New York, D. Appleton and company, 1902. https://www.loc.gov/item/02019760/.

How to Cite This Source

"Marco Polo’s Travels ," in World History Commons, https://worldhistorycommons.org/marco-polos-travels [accessed October 4, 2022]