Marco Polo and his father begin Journey to Asia

In 1271, Marco Polo (at seventeen years of age), his father, and his uncle set off for Asia on the series of adventures that were later documented in Marco's book.

They returned to Venice in 1295, 24 years later, with many riches and treasures. They had travelled almost 15,000 miles (24,140 km)

In 1271, Niccolò, Maffeo and Marco Polo embarked on their voyage to fulfill Khan's request. They sailed to Acre, and then rode on camels to the Persian port of Hormuz. They wanted to sail to China, but the ships there were not seaworthy, so they continued overland until reaching Khan's summer palace in Shangdu, near present-day Zhangjiakou. Three and one-half years after leaving Venice, when Marco was about 21 years old, Khan welcomed the Polos into his palace.[3] The exact date of their arrival is unknown, but scholars estimate it to be between 1271 and 1275.[Note 4] On reaching the Mongol court, the Polos presented the sacred oil from Jerusalem and the papal letters to their patron.

Marco Polo’s journey with his father and uncle in China, bearing a message to the great Kublai Khan from the Head of the Catholic Church, Father Gregory X, began in 1271. Their route passed through modern Akka (Israel) to the Persian Gulf, then to the north through Iran to Amu Darya, and on to Oksus (Aral sea) through the Pamir mountains to modern Sinkian (an Uigur area) and then finally through the Gobi Desert to Shangtu.

The Venetians were greeted with great honor and soon appeared in the presence of the great Khan. Young Marco was especially liked by Kublai Khan who gave him authority as his personal envoy. Using this authority Marco Polo traveled to the provinces of China, carrying out numerous, mainly diplomatic assignments. These trips, coupled with his natural curiosity and extraordinary memory, allowed Marco to get acquainted with the lifestyles of the people of this mysterious country, and subsequently, to document a unique and descriptive story about his findings and impressions. It is known that he went overland from Bukhara to China. In one of the versions of his “Book” he describes his visit to Samarkand.

Marco Polo sets out from Italy in 1271 at the age of 17 with his father and uncle, both traders, on a journey across Asia, among the first Europeans to make such a trip. For 24 years, the Polos follow ancient trade routes through Persia, China, Indonesia, and India. Marco Polo's written account of his travels, Il Milione, becomes popular throughout Europe and stimulates interest in trade with the East, introducing Westerners to such things as ivory, jade, porcelain, coal, paper money, the compass, and silk.