Was Marco Polo born in Croatia? Korcula island opens museum

Free to Chinese visitors, whose number is increasing in Dalmatia

08 August, 16:46

(ANSAMed) - ZAGHREB, AUGUST 8 - A new museum dedicated to the life of Medieval explorer Marco Polo opened its doors on Wednesday. The museum, which cost 270,000 euros, is located in the town of Korcula, on the central-Dalmatian island of the same name. According to some Croatian historians, the Venitian explorer was born in Dalmatia in 1254.

''The museum represents the life and the many voyages of the famous Medieval adventurer, Korcula's most renowned native son, who in the 13th century, visited the remote and unknown country of China,'' says the museum's press release. One of the exhibition halls is dedicated to a naval battle between Genoa and Venice, which may have taken place in 1298 off the coast of Korcula. Fighting on the side of La Serenissima, Marco Polo was captured and taken to Genoa, where he was imprisoned. While in jail he befriended Pisan writer Rustichello, to whom he dictated his tales of travel. This resulted in a book titled The Travels of Marco Polo, also known as Il Milione (The Million).

Marco Polo's presence at this battle, and the fact that Polo and Depolo are very common last names in Korcula, prove that he was born in Dalmatia and not in Venice, according to some historians.

The Croatian Tourist Board run ads promoting Croatia as ''the fatherland of Marco Polo,'' and 20,000 visitors are expected to visit his museum next year. And, while tickets are 8 euros, entry is free for Chinese nationals. Croatia, it seems, has become a very popular holiday destination for subjects of the People's Republic, with several thousand Chinese visitors expected on Korcula by summer's end. (ANSAMed).

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