Though Marco Polo did not actually discover anything, his writings in Travels of Marco Polo served as Europe’s introduction to the East, and spurred interest in exploration. Marco Polo, born in the mid-thirteenth century in Venice, traveled with his father and uncle to China. During his stay, Polo served the Emperor Kublai Khan as an ambassador, as a governor, and in a host of other diplomatic positions. In his 30s he returned to Venice and fought against the city-state of Genoa and was eventually captured. While imprisoned in Genoa, he dictated the story of his travels to a fellow prisoner, creating the somewhat exaggerated memoir Travels of Marco Polo.
An illustration of Marco Polo, the great explorer who introduced Europe to the Asian world.