Marco Polo Biography

Marco Polo, a renowned 13th century explorer, was one of the first Europeans to venture into China. Accompanied by his father and uncle, Polo embarked on a journey to meet Emperor Kublai Khan. Impressed by Polo’s talents, Khan appointed him as the ruler of one of his cities and Polo served in various high positions in the Chinese court. Upon his return to Venice after 24 years, Polo brought back immense wealth and captivating tales about the Chinese way of life. His experiences were documented in the book ‘The Travels of Marco Polo’, authored by Rustichello da Pisa. This publication catapulted Polo to fame in Venice and even inspired other explorers like Christopher Columbus. To delve deeper into Polo’s life and adventures, continue reading his biography.

Quick Facts

  • Died At Age: 70
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Donata Badoer
    • Father: Niccolò Polo
    • Mother: Nicole Anna Defuseh
    • Children: Bellela Polo, Fantina Polo, Moretta Polo
  • Born Country: Italy
  • Quotes By Marco Polo
  • Writers
  • Died on: January 8, 1324
  • Place of death: Venice, Italy
  • City: Venice, Italy

Childhood & Early Life

Marco Polo was born to Nicole Anna Defuseh and Niccolò Polo, a merchant who was on a trading expedition at the time of his birth. It is generally believed by historians that he was born in Venice, Italy. In 1260, while his father and Uncle Maffeo Polo were trading in Constantinople, his mother passed away and he lived with his aunt and uncle. He soon became well versed with merchant trading.

Early Expeditions

In 1271, Marco Polo, along with his father, Niccolò Polo, and uncle, Maffeo Polo, commenced an expedition to Asia. They traveled through Persia and Tartary. In 1274, after traveling for three years, they reached Cathay, Northern China. His father and uncle met Kublai Khan there and greeted him with papal letters, and they were appointed in the king’s court. Marco Polo was chosen to be the official representative of Emperor Kublai Khan and joined the king on various missions, for which he traveled extensively all over China. In the 1280s, he traveled to many parts of the Asian continent and was subsequently appointed as the governor of one of Kublai Khan’s cities.

Later Life

In 1292, Marco Polo traveled with a wedding party to Persia, as Kublai Khan’s daughter, Princess Cocachin, was getting married. They stopped in Borneo, Sumatra, and Ceylon, among other places. After the death of Kublai Khan in 1294, Marco Polo returned to Venice in 1295, after 24 years of being on a voyage to China. He brought back a vast collection of fine jewels, riches, and treasures. However, in 1298, during the Battle of Curzola between Venice and Genoa, Marco Polo was captured and imprisoned for several months. It was during his time in jail that he shared accounts of his travel experiences and expeditions with fellow inmate Rustichello da Pisa, who later authored the book ‘The Travels of Marco Polo’. Marco Polo was released from prison in August 1299 and returned to his home in Venice.

Personal Life & Legacy

In 1300, the book ‘The Travels of Marco Polo’ was released, becoming an instant bestseller and making him one of the most famous figures in Venice. Marco Polo married Donata Badoer in the same year, and they had three daughters together. Marco Polo became very sick and bedridden by 1323, and he passed away the following year at the age of 70 in Venice. He was laid to rest at the San Lorenzo di Venezia church. The airport of Venice is named the Venice Marco Polo Airport in his honor.


  • Marco Polo did not meet his father until he was about fifteen or sixteen.
  • Marco Polo traveled across the Gobi desert to reach China, which took several months.
  • Some historians speculate that Marco Polo did not actually travel to China because he does not mention the Great Wall of China, chopsticks, or any Chinese characters in his book.

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