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Map showing travels of Marco Polo

Map showing travels of Marco Polo

From Pierre Bergeron, Voyages faits principalement en Asie, La Haye, Jean Neaulme, 1735

State Library of Victoria, Melbourne, RARESF 915 B45

The celebrated traveller Marco Polo (c 1254–1324) provided Europe with some of the earliest written descriptions of medieval Persia.

According to his account, after setting sail from Venice in 1271 with his merchant father and uncle, he travelled through Persia on the way to and from the court of the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan. His travels – supposedly dictated to the writer Rustichello da Pisa while both were in a Genoese prison – describe centres such as Tabriz and Kashan, as well as the port of Hormuz.

First known as Divisament dou Monde (Description of the world) and later as Il Milione (The million), Marco Polo’s popular account was translated into many languages.