In today’s world of planes, trains and automobiles — not to mention travel writers, bloggers and companies — it's hard to imagine a time when travel wasn’t so common. But in the 13th century, when a young Italian found himself exploring exotic lands and cultures, he did so with little precedent.
Sailing from Venice to Arabia, riding camels through Persia and exploring gilded palaces in China, Marco Polo took on the new world, well before Christopher Columbus in the 15th century. The best-selling “The Travels of Marco Polo” became one of the first travel books of civilization, inspiring medieval and early explorers to discover the world.
Here are some surprising facts about Marco Polo, the man who helped start it all.