2022 marks the 530th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas. Sponsored and dispatched by the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, Columbus led a fleet of three ships on August 3, 1492 to sail west to search for a direct sea route to reach Asia as an alternative to the overland trade routes. On October 12 of that year, the ships made landfall—not in Asia, as Columbus assumed, but on San Salvador in the Bahamas. Subsequently he made three more voyages to the New World in 1493, 1498 and 1502, reaching the Caribbeans, and Central and South Americas. Although Columbus always maintained that he had reached the Far East, he never set foot in Asia. One of the reasons that arose Columbus’s interest in traveling to the East is the famed Travels of Marco Polo, an account of the author’s travels to China in the 13th century that held Columbus spellbound in his childhood. Columbus treasured the book so much that he brought along a copy on his first cross-Atlantic journey. Travels of Marco Polo fascinated not only Columbus, not also a host of other famous European navigators in the Age of Exploration, including Amerigo Vespucci, from whose name the term “America” is derived, Ferdinand Magellan, who led the first recorded circumnavigation of the earth in 1519, Vasco da Gama, the first European to reach India by way of Cape of Good Hope, and the 15th century cosmographer Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli, who was the first to create a map showing a westward sea route to China and subsequently passed it to Columbus to carry on his first voyage. Marco Polo’s travelogue generated in the West an immense interest in and yearning for Asia in general and China in particular. To learn about Marco Polo’s travels to China and the impact he made, the Renwen Society presents a lecture on February 26 by Prof. Jia Hongyan, an expert on tourism who will discuss Marco Polo’s storied journey to the East, what he saw and experienced in China, and how the legendary book was brought back to China.

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Date: 02/26/2022

Time: 8:00 pm

Cost: Free

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