Everyone knows that tourism has a noble purpose: to enlighten, enchant and bring the people’s hearts closer together. Tourist cities located on the Great Silk Road tell us about an interesting past, about a rich culture and unique traditions that have evolved over thousands of years. And, probably, the first tourist who made his journey on the across the Silk Road was Marco Polo.
The life story of Marco Polo (1254-1324) is full of interesting details and contradictions, but one thing is certain. A Venetian merchant made an incredible journey from the Mediterranean to China. After his travels, he wrote “Book on the Diversity of the World”, which became a valuable source on history, geography and ethnography. It is known that Christopher Columbus, setting off on his voyage, has used the work of Polo as a handbook to find and determine the route to the New World.
Marco Polo began his journey as a teenager. The young man was 17 years old when his father Niccolo and uncle Maffeo Polo took Marco with them on the trip. Young Marco was fascinated by his adventure, despite the fact that the path was difficult, full of dangers and adventures. On their way there were robbers, severe weather conditions, and diseases. But the main goal of the merchant travelers was to meet the Mongol Khan Kublai, the ruler of the Yuan state. Having settled in the Mongol capital, Marco Polo got into the service of Kublai Khan, which he described in detail in his book. The Mongol Khan did not want to let Marco go home, considering him his ally and faithful assistant. Marco Polo lived for a long time at the court of Kublai Khan.
In total, Marco’s famous journey lasted 24 years. On the way to his homeland he was captured by the Genoese. In prison, the traveler shared his stories of the journey to another prisoner, Rustichello, who was writing novels. He wrote down the text dictated by Marco. After his release, Marco Polo lived for another 25 years and died in his hometown as a wealthy man.
The path that Polo’s family made in the XIII century can be considered heroic. After all, these are countless roads through the Middle East, South Caucasus, Central Asia, Persia and North China.
This was the second trip for Niccolo and Maffeo Polo together with Marco. The route through the current territory of Uzbekistan was one of the most difficult: Urgench ➡️ Bukhara ➡️ Shakhrisabz ➡️ Samarkand ➡️ valley of Syr Darya river ➡️ Fergana valley.
In his book, Marco Polo gives a rather detailed description of the location of modern Uzbekistan. In particular, about Samarkand he says that it is a great city, very noble with many orchards and bazaars. Marco also mentions that not only Muslims, but also Christians live on this land. Local residents are tolerant of each other. After Samarkand there was a long road to a place called “Karkan”, probably, the author meant the Fergana Valley. He described the inhabitants of the valley as proficient in the arts of handicrafts and needlework.
Marco’s father and uncle spoke of Bukhara as a great city with blue domes, tiled walls of mosques, strewn with trade shops and busy streets. At that time, Bukhara was a large trade centre selling oriental spices, silk, porcelain, artfully made products from metal, precious stones and ivory, and much more.
Today, anyone can go on an amazing journey in the footsteps of Marco Polo and see, feel, try everything that Polo’s family has discovered. On such a journey, you will make a fantastic journey to the most ancient cities of Uzbekistan, located on the route of the Great Silk Road.
On the territory of our country, you can start your journey in the same way as the Polo brothers passed on their first trip: across the Ustyurt plateau, then along the Amu Darya river you will meet numerous monuments of the ancient Khorezm civilization; moving to the southeast, on your way will be located the great cities - Urgench and Khiva, fertile Bukhara, ancient Shakhrisabz, the capital of the medieval empire of Amir Temur - Samarkand, monuments and landscapes of the beautiful Fergana Valley.Let your journey become for you an unforgettable adventure that will charm and change your life as brightly as it happened with the Italian merchant Marco Polo.