In and around the Year 1264 AD the Three Polo's embarked on a Trading Mission that would bring them further on the Silk Road then any European had ever traveled at the Time (and was recorded for history). The initial journey would take them from Sarai in the Crimea, all the way to Khanbalik (Beijing) in China and the court of the Kublai Khan. They reached Beijing in the year 1266 AD after a 2 year journey. The Polo's returned to the West and Constantinople in 1271 AD. However, in 1272 AD, the Pope of Constantinople sent the three Polo Brothers on a return mission which would last until the year 1295 AD, ending with a return to the City of Venice. It was on the second Journey that Marco Polo the younger, then 17 years old, was brought along to record the events for world history in his book "Il Millione".
The Second Journey took only 3 years to reach Khanbalik, the Polo's and Marco arriving in the fall 1274 AD.
The second Journey with Marco Polo first traveled by Sea to Ormuz in Persia, starting the overland trip on the Silk Road from there. From Ormuz on the Coast the path led by Kamandi and Kerman in Persia, through the now lost Cities of Tabas, Tun and Qain to Balkh in Afghanistan.
From Balkh in Afghanistan onwards (4) Marco Polo's own Route can be followed clearly. In both 1264 AD and 1272 AD the Polo's traveled eastward over the Pamir Mountains through to Kashgar (5) in current day Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region of China. From Kashgar onward however the second journey led along the south route bypassing the Taklamakan Desert. The Silk Road continues from Kashgar to meet
Marco Polo's Silk Road and Journey (1272 AD - 1295 AD)
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This page was last updated on: October 19, 2017
The Below depicted Geographic Map gives a detailed and acurate overview of the Eurasian Trade Routes existing in the 13Th Century. Clearly marked in Red Accent on the Map are the cities of the network of land-bound trading routes through Central Asia since the 19Th Century also known as the Silk Road. This was the path chosen by Marco Polo between 1274 AD and 1291 AD on his visit to the Kublai Khan and his Yuan Dynasty Empire. Marco Polo's Route (through o.a. Kashgar, then south along the Taklamakan Desert through Khotan in Xinjiang to Dunhuang, Gansu, China) is marked on the Map.
Marked in Blue Accent are the Main Ports and Harbors of the Maritime Trade Routes that operated between the Arabian Peninsula and the Red Sea in the far West, the Indian Ocean and Coastal Cities in the Center, the Straights of Malacca, the East with the South-China Sea's and beyond. As shown Maritime Trade to China mainly entered through Southern Harbors or Sea Harbors in current day Fujian Province, and Jiangsu Province, then was distributed internally by use of the Grand Canal, the Yangtze River and the Yellow River.
The China Report
Introduction to Map of the EurAsian Trade Routes in the 13Th Century
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Three Polo Brothers Route to China (where possible) marked in Gold on the Map
Marco Polo traveled on the Silk Road to the China of the Yuan Dynasty in the second half of the 13Th Century. The Journey's taken by Marco Polo and his Brothers were among the first to bring news of the Far East, its Cities, Rulers and wonders back to the European Civilization in the West.
Marco Polo (Father) was a Venetian descending from a successful Trading Family who did their business in The East. Marco Polo the Elder was partners in trade with his two brothers Nicolo and Maffeo and they did business mainly in Constantinople until 1259 AD. The Polo's then fled from political upheavals and moved to Soldaia (1) on the Black Sea, a Port well-known to Venetian Traders. Soldaia, by that Time had become part of the Golden Horde Khanate of the Mongol Empire. In search of better business opportunities, the Polo's were subsequently drawn to Sarai (2), the Capital City of the Golden Horde Khanate and home of Berke Khan. After a stay of one year the Polo's once more were on the move, this time to
In the early times of the Han (206 BC - 220 AD) and later the Tang Dynasty (618 AD-907 AD) the land routes had been economically most important. During the 13Th Century and the Yuan Dynasty both routes had grown equally important from an economic perspective and trade would shift more and more away from the landbound routes, in favor of the much faster and thus more economical sea-bound routes. In the MongolianYuan Dynasty (1271 AD - 1368 AD) Era the Capital of China was at Beijing, then named Khanbalik.
In the Years of the Third Reign of the Ming Dynasty under Emperor Zhu Di (Reign name Yongle), the Capital was once again moved North to Beijing. However, the City of Nanjing on the Grand Canal, 2nd Capital of China and home of the Ming Fleet would remain a prosperous trading center. Among things Nanjing would be the home base of the 7 Expeditions of Admiral Zheng He, in which a gargantuan Chinese Fleet showed its powers along the depicted Maritime Trade Routes, made contact with over 30 Nations and established new Trade Routes with East-Africa. In the 14Th Century the Chinese Ships even made it to Cape Agulhas, the southern-most Cape on the Coast of South Africa (Vasco Da Gama would use a Route pionereed by Zheng He).
Map includes the Route travelled by Marco Polo, William of Rubruck and John of Pian de Carpine, the three famed European Travelers of the Time.
Locations of Main Trading Ports and Cities on Trade Routes of the Time are marked (More on Marco Polo see below Map).
Some of the Oasis along the Taklamakan Desert at this time were slowly but surely disappearing. It was during the Yuan Dynasty that the City a
and Civilization of Khotan disappeared from historical record (although Marco Polo reported to the Kublai Khan that the City was still vibrant and
prosperous). Similarly the vast Lake of Lop Nor where the Tarim River led and collected was drying up.
Later the remnants of the land silk road in China were rediscovered by explorers Sven Hedin and Marc Aurel Stein.
avoid a civil war in the Golden Horde Khanate. They ended up in Buchara (Uzbekistan)(3) another famed and prosperous trading city and home to another Court, that of the Il Khan. It was Il Khan would initiate the
Marco Polo would stay in China for 17 years where he would travel extensively and do works on the wish and command of the Great Mongolian Kublai Khan. In his travels he would visit Quanzhou and the southern trading city of Yangzhou, 1.5 million citizens at the time, where allegedly was Governor for three years. After 1291 AD the Kublai Khan sent Marco Polo on one more Missions that would return him to the West through the Island of Sumatra, Sri Lanka (Ceylon), India and Persia. Marco Polo finally returned to Venice in the year 1295 AD.