first Far Eastern Travels of the Polo Brothers. 
In and around the Year 1264 AD the Three Polo's embarked on a Trading Mission that would bring them further on the Silk Road then any European had ever traveled at the Time (and was recorded for history). The initial journey would take them from Sarai in the Crimea, all the way to Khanbalik (Beijing) in China and the court of the Kublai Khan. They reached Beijing in the year 1266 AD after a 2 year journey. The Polo's returned to the West and Constantinople in 1271 AD.  However, in 1272 AD, the Pope of Constantinople sent the three Polo Brothers on a return mission which would last until the year 1295 AD, ending with a return to the City of Venice. It was on the second Journey that Marco Polo the younger, then 17 years old, was brought along to record the events for world history in his book "Il Millione".
The Second Journey took only 3 years to reach Khanbalik, the Polo's and Marco arriving in the fall 1274 AD.

The first and second journey's of the Polo's were taken through different Pathways. On the First Journey the brothers chose the North Path from Bochara eastward through Samarkand, Tashkent and Almaty to Urumqi, Turpan and Hami (Kumul) in North Xinjiang and on to Dunhuang.

The second Journey with Marco Polo first traveled by Sea to Ormuz in Persia, starting the overland trip on the Silk Road from there. From Ormuz on the Coast the path led by Kamandi and Kerman in Persia, through the now lost Cities of Tabas, Tun and Qain to Balkh in Afghanistan.
From Balkh in Afghanistan onwards (4) Marco Polo's own Route can be followed clearly. In both 1264 AD and 1272 AD the Polo's traveled eastward over the Pamir Mountains through to Kashgar (5) in current day Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region of China. From Kashgar onward however the second journey led along the south route bypassing the Taklamakan Desert. The Silk Road continues from Kashgar to meet
Marco Polo's Silk Road and Journey (1272 AD - 1295 AD)
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The Below depicted Geographic Map gives a detailed and acurate overview of the Eurasian Trade Routes existing in the 13Th Century. Clearly marked in Red Accent on the Map are the cities of the network of land-bound trading routes through Central Asia since the 19Th Century also known as the Silk Road. This was the path chosen by Marco Polo between 1274 AD and 1291 AD on his visit to the Kublai Khan and his Yuan Dynasty Empire. Marco Polo's Route (through o.a. Kashgar, then south along the Taklamakan Desert through Khotan in Xinjiang to Dunhuang, Gansu, China) is marked on the Map.

Marked in Blue Accent are the Main Ports and Harbors of the Maritime Trade Routes that operated between the Arabian Peninsula and the Red Sea in the far West, the Indian Ocean and Coastal Cities in the Center, the Straights of Malacca, the East with the South-China Sea's and beyond. As shown Maritime Trade to China mainly entered through Southern Harbors or Sea Harbors in current day Fujian Province, and Jiangsu Province, then was distributed internally by use of the Grand Canal, the Yangtze River and the Yellow River.
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Sun Gate Fortress + Beacon - Great Wall of China, Gansu Province
Yulin Fortress - Great Wall of China, Shaanxi Province
Kishm, Tajikistan
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Kharakoto (Heicheng), Today: Ruins of Capital of XiXia-Western Xia or Tangguts, Ningxia Hui AR,China
ChaChau later Tun-Huang (Dunhuang), Gansu Province
Balkh, Afghanistan
Tabas, Lost City in Afghanistan
Kirman(Kerman), Kerman Province Iran
Ormuz - Marco Polo Sea arrival in Persia
Ningxia Fu (Yinchuan), Ningxia Hui Province - Stop overPoint of Marco Polo+His Brothers en Route to Khanbalik
Khanbalik (Beijing), Capital of China - Home of Kublai Khan & Court
Taklamakan Desert
Tajikistan at
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     Three Polo Brothers Route to China (where possible) marked in Gold on the Map
Marco Polo traveled on the Silk Road to the China of the Yuan Dynasty in the second half of the 13Th Century. The Journey's taken by Marco Polo and his Brothers were among the first to bring news of the Far East, its Cities, Rulers and wonders back to the European Civilization in the West.
Marco Polo (Father) was a Venetian descending from a successful Trading Family who did their business in The East.  Marco Polo the Elder was partners in trade with his two brothers Nicolo and Maffeo and they did business mainly in Constantinople until 1259 AD. The Polo's then fled from political upheavals and moved to Soldaia (1) on the Black Sea, a Port well-known to Venetian Traders. Soldaia, by that Time had become part of the Golden Horde Khanate of the Mongol Empire. In search of better business opportunities, the Polo's were subsequently drawn to Sarai (2), the Capital City of the Golden Horde Khanate and home of Berke Khan. After a stay of one year the Polo's once more were on the move, this time to
Lan Chau Fu (Lanzhou), Capital of Gansu Province, China
Guangzhou (Canton), Guandong Province
Inner Mongolia
Barkul, Xinjiang-Uygur AR
Turfan, Xinjiang-Uygur AR
Nanking, Jiangsu Province
ZaiTun (Quanzhou), Fujien Province
Muscat, Oman.
Er Riadh (Riyadh), Saudi Arabia.
Samarkand, Uzbekistan
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Kashgar, Xinjiang-Uygur AR
Aksu, Xinjiang-Uygur AR
Xi Ning Fu (Xining), Qinghai Province
Ningxia Fu (Currently:Yinchuan), Ningxia Hui Province
Hami, XinjiangUygur AR
Merv, Turkmenistan
Balkh, Afghanistan
Kabul, Afghanistan
Kandahar, Afghanistan
Meshed, Iran
Isphahan, Iran
Bokhara (Bucchara), Uzbekistan - Join Embassy, Diplomatic Mission to Kublai Khan Court of Khanbalik
Khotan or Hetien, Xinjiang-Uygur AR
Yarkant or Yarkent, Xinjiang-Uygur AR
Jofna (Island), Sri Lanka
Calicut, India
Chinatabor (Goa), India
Cochin, India
Aden, Yemen.
Baghdad, Baghdad Governate, Iraq
Mosul, Iraq
Astrabad, Golestan Province, Iran
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Keshi  (Hanoi), Vietnam
Palo Condore
Martaban (Mottama), Myanmar
Pegu (Bago), Myanmar
Lankari Islands
Tavoy (Dawei), Myanmar
Ayutthaya (Ayudhya), Thailand
Pulicat (Pazhaverkadu), Tamil Nadu, India
Almati, Kazachstan
Tirmid (Termez), Uzbekistan (at Afghanistan Border)
Peshawar, Pakistan
Zerenj, Iran
Kirman(Kerman), Kerman Province Iran
Tabriz, East Azarbaijan Province, Iran
Damascus, Syria
Aleppo, Syria
Baku (Baki-Baki-Baqi),  Azerbaijan
Derbend, Dagestan, Russia,  Azerbaijan
Tana (Tanais = River Wolga), Russia - Today: Rostov, Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia (Fd.).
Tiflis (Tbilisi), Georgia
Poti, Georgia
Sevastopol (Sebastopol), Ukraine.
Kuchar, Xinjiang-Uygur AR
Tun-Huang (Dunhuang), Gansu Province
Persepolis,  Iran
In the early times of the Han (206 BC - 220 AD) and later the Tang Dynasty (618 AD-907 AD) the land routes had been economically most important. During the 13Th Century and the Yuan Dynasty both routes had grown equally important from an economic perspective and trade would shift more and more away from the landbound routes, in favor of the much faster and thus more economical sea-bound routes. In the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty (1271 AD - 1368 AD) Era the Capital of China was at Beijing, then named Khanbalik.
During the Ming Dynasty Era of course, the Capital of China would be moved south to the City of Nanjing, currently in Jiangsu Province. Trade Routes followed the pattern.
In the Years of the Third Reign of the Ming Dynasty under Emperor Zhu Di (Reign name Yongle), the Capital was once again moved North to Beijing. However, the City of Nanjing on the Grand Canal, 2nd Capital of China and home of the Ming Fleet would remain a prosperous trading center. Among things Nanjing would be the home base of the 7 Expeditions of Admiral Zheng He, in which a gargantuan Chinese Fleet showed its powers along the depicted Maritime Trade Routes, made contact with over 30 Nations and established new Trade Routes with East-Africa. In the 14Th Century the Chinese Ships even made it to Cape Agulhas, the southern-most Cape on the Coast of South Africa (Vasco Da Gama would use a Route pionereed by Zheng He).

Map includes the Route travelled by Marco Polo, William of Rubruck and John of Pian de Carpine, the three famed European Travelers of the Time.
Locations of Main Trading Ports and Cities on Trade Routes of the Time are marked (More on Marco Polo see below Map).
Some of the Oasis along the Taklamakan Desert at this time were slowly but surely disappearing. It was during the Yuan Dynasty that the City a
and Civilization of Khotan disappeared from historical record (although Marco Polo reported to the Kublai Khan that the City was still vibrant and
prosperous). Similarly the vast Lake of Lop Nor where the Tarim River led and collected was drying up.
Later the remnants of the land silk road in China were rediscovered by explorers Sven Hedin and Marc Aurel Stein.
Soldaia, Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukraine - Starting Point of Marco Polo
Sarai (Sarai Batu), Kharabalinsky District, Astrakhan Oblast, Russia
Citracan (Astrakhan), Astrakhan Oblast, Russia
Soldaia, Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukraine - Starting Point of Marco Polo
avoid a civil war in the Golden Horde Khanate. They ended up in Buchara (Uzbekistan)(3) another famed and prosperous trading city and home to another Court, that of the Il Khan. It was Il Khan would initiate the
Venice, Italy - Home of Marco Polo Family - End of Eastern Travels in 1295 AD
Sarai (Sarai Batu), Kharabalinsky District, Astrakhan Oblast, Russia - Capital of Golden Horde Khanate under Berke Khan
Soldaia, Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukraine - Starting Point of 3 Polo Brothers
ChaChau later Tun-Huang (Dunhuang), Gansu Province
Khotan or Hetien, Xinjiang-Uygur AR
Kashgar, Xinjiang-Uygur AR
Bokhara (Bucchara), Uzbekistan - 1263 AD-1264 AD Trading Headquarters of the Polo's, 1264 AD 3 Brothers sent on Diplomatic Mission to Khanbaliq
Yarkant or Yarkent, Xinjiang-Uygur AR - Stop-over on Marco Polo Route
Marco Polo would stay in China for 17 years where he would travel extensively and do works on the wish and command of the Great Mongolian Kublai Khan. In his travels he would visit Quanzhou and the southern trading city of Yangzhou, 1.5 million citizens at the time, where allegedly was Governor for three years. After 1291 AD the Kublai Khan sent Marco Polo on one more Missions that would return him to the West through the Island of Sumatra, Sri Lanka (Ceylon), India and Persia.  Marco Polo finally returned to Venice in the year 1295 AD.
the Taklamakan Desert, the Gobi Desert and the neck of China before reaching Chinese Civilization proper. From Kashgar, Marco Polo traveled through Yarkand (6) and Khotan (7). According to Marco Polo Khotan then still thrived however it was lost to time soon afterwards until it was rediscovered around the year 1900 AD. From Khotan the road leads eastward past Cherchen (Qiemo) to Lop Nur (8) and its then declining marshes. From Lop Nor the path leads through Yangguan Pass (Sun Gate) on the Tang Dynasty Era Great Wall of China and onto Dunhuang (9) in Gansu Province. The Mogao Buddhist Caves of Dunhuang were vividly described by Marco Polo in his Book. At Dunhuang the North and South routes of the Silk Road from Kashgar reunited and led on through the Hexi Corridor and JiaYuGuan Pass (the Fortress on the Great Wall of China was built later during the Ming Dynasty) to the Zhangye (10), where Marco Polo described the Thrill of laying eyes on the Buddha of the Big Buddha Temple of Zhangye. Passed Zhangye Civilization was reached and onwards lay the Heartland of Cathay, as China was then named. Marco Polo stayed one full year in Zhangye after his route DID NOT PASS through Lanzhou (11) in Gansu Province, but bypassed the Yellow River valley and traveled along the Hei River to Kharakoto (Heicheng) (12), the ancient Tanggut Capital, and from there cut North across the Tengger Desert to arrive at Karakoram in Inner-Mongolia (13) on the way to Khanbalik (Beijing)(14), which lay in North-West China.
Changanor (under research)
Quinsai (Yangzhou);today: Hangzou, Capital of Zhejiang Province
Fuxi or Fuqui (Fuzhou), Fujien Province
Guilin, Guangxi Autonomous Zhuang Region
Chun Ning Fu (Chongqing), Chongqing Province
Chengdu Fu (Chengdu), Sichuan Province
TaiYuan Fu (TaiYuan), Capital of Shanxi Province
Ping Yang (PingYao), Shanxi Province
Karakorum, Övörkhangai Province of Mongolia - Capital of 13Th Century Mongol Empire
Bamian, Afghanistan - Site of Two  Destroyed Buddha Statues
Kunduz, Kunduz Province, Afghanistan
Otrar Or Utrar, Kazachstan - (Ghost) City on Silk Road
Cherchen , Xinjiang-Uygur AR
Chang Fu
Soldaia, Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukraine - Starting Point of Marco Polo
Turfan, Xinjiang-Uygur AR
Hami, XinjiangUygur AR
Urumqi, Capital of Xinjiang-Uygur AR
Urumqi, Capital of Xinjiang-Uygur AR
Tabas, Lost City in Persia
Kashgar, Xinjiang-Uygur AR - Visited by Marco Polo 1273 AD
Cherchen , Xinjiang-Uygur AR
Tokto (probably Datong, Shanxi)
Tokto (probably Datong, Shanxi)
Route of Marco Polo 1274 AD - 1276 AD
Samarkand, Uzbekistan
Chang 'An (Xi'An), Capital of Shaanxi Province, China
JiaYuGuan (Pass), Gansu Province
Thanjavur (Tanjore), India
Belawan, Sumatra
Wuwei, Gansu Province
Zhangye, Gansu Province
Ganzhou, Referred to by Marco Polo as Kan Chau (Zhangye), Gansu Province
To Previous Page - Historic Maps of China - Index
To Previous Page - Historic Maps of China - Index
To Previous Page - Historic Maps of China - Index
Marco Polo's Succuir - Suzhou District - Today Jiuquan, Gansu Province
KharaKoto (Heicheng) Still inhabited during Marco Polo's Travels - Today:Ruins of Heicheng, Alxa League, Ejin Banner, Inner-Mongolia AR.
Karakoran (Karakoram, Capital 13Th Century Mongol Empire of Genghis Khan))
Lhasa (Lasa), Capital of Tibet
Nanchang (nanchang Fu), Jiangxi Province
Lop Nor (罗布泊 ; لوپنۇر)
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