Following her husband Marco Polo back to Venice from the Mongolian court, the princess never felt at home in this strange land. And today it is said the Mongolian Princess is still haunting the place, wishing for home.

Many of the places in Venice have rememberancing to their hero and legend, the merchant Marco Polo. He is most known for his travels to the silk route to the east where he released the book ‘The Travels of Marco Polo’. There he spent time at court at the powerful Kublai-Khan of Mongolia and Northern China in the late 1200s. 

After several decades on his travels, he finally returned home to Venice where he was from. However, he didn’t return alone. One of the houses in Corte del Milion used to belong to him and he lived there with his wife he brought back from the east. 

The Mongolian Princess Wife

According to the legend, Marco Polo married the daughter of Kublai-Khan’s and she followed her husband back to Venice, but never felt that the Venetians embraced her as their own.

Marco Polo’s wife was alone in a foreign country with a foreign customs and language. And then her husband disappeared as well when he was imprisoned. 

Following her husband Marco Polo back to Venice from the Mongolian court, the princess never felt at home in this strange land. And today it is said the Mongolian Princess is still haunting the place, wishing for home.
The Mongolian Princess: Did Marco Polo marry one of the Khan’s daughters? According to the legend she followed him back to Venice, although she suffered a tragic fate and is supposedly haunting their former mansion.

In 1298, Marco Polo was imprisoned in Genoa for a period of time. He returned to Venice in 1295 with his wealth converted into gemstones. Venice was at war with the Republic of Genoa at that time. Marco Polo joined the war by equipping a galley with a trebuchet.

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He spent several months in prison dictating his travels to a fellow inmate named Rustichello da Pisa. The detailed account, which included tales from China, was spread throughout Europe in manuscript form and became known as “The Travels of Marco Polo”. Marco Polo was released from captivity in August 1299 and returned to Venice, where his family had purchased a large palace.

According to this legend, the Mongolian Princess sister in law was jealous of her and lied to the princess and told that Marco Polo had died in prison. This was the last straw for Marco Polo’s wife as she was both alone and homesick and she ended up committing suicide. Some say she set her clothes on fire and jumped into the canal.

They say that she was a good singer, and to this day, you can sometimes hear a soft and sweet song, singing in her native language. If you pass through the Milion courtyard where Polo’s houses stood you may even spot a ghostly figure holding a small candle, looking back to her homeland in the east she never returned to. 

Marco Polo’s Real Venetian Wife

If the legend is true or not is difficult to say, as little of his life is known or how much of his writings were actually true, and we know even less about his supposed Mongolian Princess wife from the east. Did she even exist?

We actually have documented that Marco Polo married a Venetian lady named Donata Badoer. They married after he got out from prison in 1300 and together they had three daughters together and were married for 24 years. 

The Real Princess Kököchin Khatun

So where did the rumor about the Mongolian princess come from then? It is true that Marco Polo’s father and uncle were given a last mission before returning to Venice to escort the 17-year old Mongolian princess called Kököchin Khatun (阔阔真). They were chosen as escorts for her to her wedding where the Mongolian Princess was marrying a Persian ruler in the Mongol Empire.

In some version of the story, she had died when they arrived, and from there rumors about Marco Polo marrying her started. Did she even die though? They did set out from what is today Beijing in 1291, and started travelling. Most accounts tell about the Polo’s leaving her at the wedding in 1293 before continuing on their way back to Venice. In the meantime her would be husband had died though, and she married his son instead and died herself in 1296.

The Ghost of the Mongolian Princess in Venice

As the sun set over the picturesque canals of Venice, a soft breeze rustled through the ancient alleyways. In the heart of the city, the ghostly figure of the Mongolian Princess still roamed, her luminous presence illuminating the darkness. And so, as the Venetians ventured through the Milion courtyard, they would occasionally catch a glimpse of the spectral figure.

A huge theater was built on top of the old family house and is today known as Malibran Theatre. There has been excavation done that uncovered pieces of information about the time Marco Polo and his family lived there. If that included something relating to an Mongolian princess is unclear though. 

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Kököchin – Wikipedia 

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