Old Town and Marco Polo

The first time I heard about Pliny was in connection with Pompei and the eruption of Vesuvius. That was Pliny the younger who documented the event. Pliny the elder was his father. The reason for mentioning this…. I need to take a step back. 

 Marco Polo, the explorer, was born in Korčula. The details are a bit sketchy but the locals are adamant and our rep even tells us that the hotel manager is a descendant from the Polo family. Marco Polo is Venetian and Korčula was under Venetian rule at the time he was born. Looking up Marco Polo’s travels, I find that he has travelled to Quilon/Kollam in 1292. He was not the first westerner to have travelled to Kollam, but much earlier Pliny the elder made the trip during the first century and documented it. Kollam was an important trading port during Roman times. The map showing Marco Polo’s travel destinations is exhibited at the entrance to his house which is now a museum in the Old Town. I point out Quilon to the other tourists I meet at the entrance and tell them that there is where I am from. 

The walk from the hotel along the lakefront to the Old Town is about a mile long. The trees lining the tarred path provide us with some shade from the midday heat. The entry to the Old Town is marked by a steep set of steps and a tower. Once inside the area is designed in the shape of a fishbone, with the central vertebra running across the middle and cobbled side streets spanning out to each sides. Fortresses line one end of the periphery, churches, souvenir shops and restaurants line the streets. Marco Polo’s house is in the midst of this. 

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