Marco Polo reaches Cathay and meets Kublai Khan

Marco Polo travels to Cathay (China) Marco Polo lived from 1254-1324.

Some years before St. Louis led his last Crusade there was born in Venice a boy named Marco Polo. His father was a wealthy merchant who often went on trading journeys to distant lands. In 1271, when Marco Polo was seventeen years old, he accompanied his father and uncle on a journey through the Holy Land, Persia and Tartary, and at length to the Empire of China, then called Cathay. It took the travellers three years to reach Cathay.

Marco Polo meets Kublai Khan in Peking
The emperor of Cathay was a monarch named Kublai Khan who lived in Peking. Marco Polo's father and uncle had been in Cathay once before and had entertained Kublai Khan by telling him about the manners and customs of Europe. So when the two Venetian merchants again appeared in Peking, Kublai Khan was glad to see them. He was also greatly pleased with the young Marco Polo, whom he invited to the palace. Important positions at the Chinese court were given to Marco Polo's father and uncle, and so they and Marco Polo lived in the country for some years. Marco Polo studied the Chinese language, and it was not very long before he could speak it.

The travellers reach Cathay after a three year journey. Marco Polo arrives in the capital and his father and uncle renew their friendly acquaintance with the Kublai Khan and present him with papal letters. They were given important positions at his court. Marco Polo studied the Chinese language which he learnt to speak

They had a long and difficult odyssey, mostly on horseback, to reach China. The Polos
traveled through Armenia, Persia, and Afghanistan, over the Pamir Mountains, and along
the Silk Road, the main travel route for traders. Marco kept detailed journals, where he
recorded his impressions of the terrain. When he first saw the great Gobi Desert, more
than 500,000 square miles (805,000 km) of sand, he wrote: "This desert is reported to be
so long that it would take a year to go from end to end... There is nothing at all to eat."
The Polos stopped for a year in the Mongol region, where they learned about the lives
and civilization of the people there. When the Polos reached Cathay to stay with the
emperor Kublai Khan, Marco impressed the ruler with his knowledge of Mongol
traditions. The Polos had traveled 5600 miles (9000 km) in over three and a half years to
reach Cathay.