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The Travels of Marco Polo

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The Travels of Marco Polo

The Travels of Marco Polo was a book conceived in a prison cell in Genoa (Italy) in 1298. A

few years earlier, in 1292, after a twenty-four year journey, Polo had returned to the West from

Kublai Khan's Eastern empire. Polo's book was an account of this vast empire having a stage of

civilization far more advanced than anything Europeans could imagine.

In medieval times Europe was plagued by inept and corrupt leaders, misguided Crusades, the

Black Death, hunger and lack of hygiene. To this depressing reality, Polo introduced Kublai Khan, a model statesman who presided wisely over a huge empire with fantastic cities, advanced

technology and transportation systems. This was a place where everything that Europe did not

have and greedily desired could be found. However, many people questioned the authenticity of

Polo's accounts and even took them to be fairytales. But much of what Polo wrote, regarded

with suspicion in medieval times, was confirmed by travellers of the 18th and 19th centuries, and

most of the detail has since been corroborated by historians and geographers.

Fiction or not, Polo's book has captured readers for centuries. Although its author received little

recognition in life, he was capable of comprehending cultures completely alien to his own.

Today no one can fail to appreciate the book's celebration of the heterogeneity of nature,

geography and, above all, people. Races are differentiated but not denigrated and the customs of

different cultures are met with enthusiastic curiosity, not with the prejudice prevalent in Europe

at that time.


1. Are the following statements TRUE or FALSE? Copy the evidence from the text. No

marks are given for only TRUE or FALSE.

a) Marco Polo wrote his book during his fal11ous journey lo the East.
b) Experts have proved that all the information included in Polo's book was


(Puntuación máxima 2 puntos)
2. In your own words and based on the ideas in the text, answer the following questions.

a) Describe life in the Middle Ages for Europeans.

b) Why was Marco Polo's attitude to different cultures important?

(Puntuación máxima 2 puntos)

3. Find the words in the text that mean:

a) description (paragraph 1)

b) terrible (paragraph 2)

c) foreign (paragraph 3)

d) common (paragraph 3)

(Puntuación máxima: 1 punto)

4. Rewrite the following sentences:
a. Marco Polo said, “I have only told half of what I saw!”

Marco Polo said that

b. Marco Polo went to China with his father and uncle. He was born in Venice

Marco Polo, …

c. Corrupt leaders governed the West in the Middle Ages.

The West …

d., Although he received little recognition in life, Polo was capable of comprehending cultures completely alien to his own

In spite of

(Puntuación máxima 2 puntos)
5. Write about 100 to 150 words on one of the following topics.

a) Is travelling the best way to get to know other cultures and countries?

b) Are travel books popular with modem readers? Give reasons for your answer.

(Puntuación máxima 3 puntos)

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