The ambassador Juan Grant, Marco Polo, was a young boy named Nicollo from Venice. Born 800 years ago in 1254, Nicollo, also known as Marco Polo, embarked on a journey in 1269 with his father Nicollo and uncle Matteo from Acre in Northern Palestine to Europe. In 1271, he returned to the court of Kublai Khan and extensively traveled through the Middle East, Central and Central Asia, South and Southwest Asia. Throughout the year, he served as a diplomatic messenger, not just an ordinary traveler, fostering communication between two significantly different countries. In the period from 1272 to 1289, Marco Polo, along with his father and grandfather, worked for the Mongol state, delivering notifications and gifts from Pope George X to King Kublai.
From 1282 to 1285, Marco Polo assumed roles as the governor of Yanchu city and a military adviser in the Mongol Empire. He traveled extensively on the orders of Kublai Khan during this time, gaining a broader perspective and witnessing the vastness of the world.
King Kublai issued a significant order for Marco Polo to transport the monarch’s princess to her in-laws’ territory. In 1294, amidst challenging international circumstances, a Mongolian princess, escorted by 600 soldiers and 14 ships, journeyed from the coast of China through the Nicobar Islands to reach Khorezm. After successfully completing his duty of delivering the princess, Marco Polo returned to his hometown of Venice in 1295, bringing with him a ship laden with gold, treasures, and golden silk.
Drawing on his knowledge of the Mongol Empire’s administrative methods, Marco Polo was appointed as a ship captain during the 1298 war between Venice and Genoa. Unfortunately, he was captured by the enemy and imprisoned in Croatia. While in captivity, Marco Polo shared his experiences as an ambassador to various states of the Yuan Empire with a young writer named Rustachino, also imprisoned alongside him. This revelation not only marked a new historical discovery but continues to be a valuable source for historians and researchers studying that era.
The meticulous observations made by Marco Polo and the Mongols about the behavior, morals, religion, and localization of the people in the places they visited became a crucial tool for the study of geography, history, and ethnography. His work served as a remarkable introduction of Mongolian state policies to Europe and left a lasting impact, providing insights into the Mongols and the regions they explored.
After Marco Polo’s release from prison in 1299, he returned to Venice, got married, had three daughters, and lived until the age of 70. His historical achievements and captivating adventures in the Mongolian Empire transformed into a legendary tale, inspiring aspiring travelers of his time. Christopher Columbus, among those who dreamt of following in Polo’s footsteps, embarked on a lengthy journey from Italy to Asia, ultimately discovering the Americas in 1492. Vasco Da Gama, inspired by Marco Polo’s idea, successfully circumnavigated Africa and reached Asia by sea from Europe.
The remarkable story of Marco Polo has been immortalized by Mongolian and international artists in the historical film and sculpture titled “Marco Polo,” currently situated on the east side of the central square in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital, crafted by the sculptor B. Denzeng.
Embark with us on a journey to explore Marco Polo’s adventures, Mongolia’s captivating history, and its picturesque homeland.