“From the Bridge”

Discovering Asia from “The Exciting Story of Cuba”

Marco Polo’s father, Niccolò Polo, traded with the Persians who were known to the early Europeans. These early Persians came from the province of Fârs, sometimes known in Old Persian as Pârsâ, located in the southwestern region of Iran. As a people, they were united under the Achaemenid Dynasty in the 6th century BC, by Cyrus the Great. In 1260, Niccolò Polo and his brother Maffeo lived in Constantinople, now Istanbul, Turkey. After the Mongol conquest of Asia Minor, the Polo brothers liquidated their assets into tangible valuables such as gold and jewels and moved out of harm’s way.

Having heard of advanced eastern civilizations the brothers traveled through much of Asia, and even met with the Kublai Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan, who later became emperor of China and established the Yuan Dynasty. Not being the first to travel east of Iran, they had heard numerous stories regarding the riches to be discovered in the Far East.

Twenty-four years later in 1295, after traveling almost 15,000 miles, they returned to Venice with many riches and treasures. The Polo brothers had experienced a quarter century of adventures on their way to Asia that were later transcribed into The Book of Marco Polo by a writer named Rustichello, who came from Pisa in Tuscany, Italy. This was the beginning of a quest that motivated explorers, including Christopher Columbus, from that time on.

Marco Polo

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