Marco Polo facts for kids

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Who was Marco Polo?

Marco Polo was the first European to travel to Asia and tell his story. His book, “The Travels of Marco Polo” is the most famous travel book in history.

Marco Polo was born in 1254 in Venice.

When he was 17 he traveled with his father and uncle to China.

Their trip took three years.

The Emperor Kublai Khan was surprised to hear that there were Europeans in China.
He invited them to his palace and he gave Marco a job.


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Marco worked for the Emperor for many years.

He traveled all over China and he made many amazing discoveries. In Europe people didn’t have many things that he saw. People put black stones not wood on their fires.

These black stones – or coal’ -came from under the ground.


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Chinese food was different from Italian food.

Some of it was very strange but Marco Polo really loved two foods in China. One was ice cream and the other was spaghetti.

He saw people with small glass circles in front of their eyes. These ‘glasses’ helped people to see better. What a good idea! In Europe the money was gold and silver coins.

In China people used paper money. It was much easier to use.



In 1292 the Polos decided to go back to Italy.

Marco took with him many of his Chinese discoveries.

The Polos arrived back in Venice in 1295.

Marco was 41 and his father and uncle were old men. Their friends didn’t recognize them.



Marco told fantastic stories about China and his discoveries.

No one believed him. 

They called him ‘the man of a million lies.’

Marco decided to give a big party. The guests ate spaghetti and ice cream.

The Polos were wearing their old travelling clothes.

Marco took a knife. He cut his clothes.

Gold and jewels from China fell onto the floor.

After this, people in Venice believed Marco’s stories.


In 1298 Marco went to prison. 

In prison he told stories of his journey and his discoveries to a friend.

The friend wrote them down.

One day a man called Christopher Columbus read Marco Polo’s book.

He decided to sail west to China.

He didn’t find China … but that’s another story!