Historical Imagination

The title of this article could also be “Creative Industries in service of Heritage Interpretation”, but it would be too academic approach. Let’s continue with the Fun Museums! movement, using terms and expressions that remind us that museums are fun.

Croatia has more than 1.000 islands, more than 60 of them are inhabited, while there are about 10 fairly large islands. Foreign tourists traveling in Croatia are likely to have a longer list of visited Croatian islands than people from Croatia. Korčula is situated on the very South, not far away from Dubrovnik, well I mentioned it in the previous article.

Yeah, I’m 26 and this was my first visit to Korčula.

In front of the Marco Polo Museum on Korcula Island, Croatia
Outside the Marco Polo Museum

Every visitor here will notice that the island’s cultural scene and tourism branding are all around the historical figure of Marco Polo. Furthermore, here you face a huge controversy, but also a lot of fun and emotional stories.

Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant who travelled to the lands of China in the late 13th century. The reasons why he is related to Korčula are disputed; according to a legend he was not born in Venice, but in the medieval town of Korčula, and there is a house in the historical center, which is claimed to be his family house, although there is no historical evidence to prove that fact.

Generally, Croatian people are sure that he was born on Korčula, while Italians are sure that he was born in Venice. It is not easy to prove anything that happened 700 year ago, so let’s just forget about controversies, and enjoy an emotional story, told inside the concept-based museum dedicated to this interesting medieval celebrity.

Inside a concept-based museum, Croatia
The Merchant from Venice… or Korčula?


In the medieval time, the money was defined in gold, silver and other precious metals, and it wasn’t counted in extremely high numbers. Although mathematicians from ancient civilizations knew that numbers are infinite, they hadn’t officially invented or stated names for much more than thousands.

According to many theories, the term “million” (Il Milione, in Italian) was directly derived from the Polo’s book title – Il Milione. As he was illiterate, he could not write this book himself so his fellow prisoner wrote it, following his storytelling. Yes, he was in prison for being on the Venetian side during a battle with Genova; Venice eventually lost, although they had better ships, sailors and soldiers. According to some documents, the battle occurred near the island of Korčula. Marco Polo and his father supposedly had just arrived from their trip to Asia when they found the battle occurring. There are also several theories about this event, and we are not sure if it really occurred here. Never mind 🙂

For having so many stories, some of them too exotic for European people of that time, Marco Polo completed a book considered to be full of fantasy and miracles. The word “million” was a description for such exaggeration. However, nobody knows if these stories happened the way Marco Polo said, or he just gave lots of hyperboles.

Did you know…

…that the “Million” is the third most popular book in the history of mankind, only behind Bible and Quran, while it remained a bit ahead of the Harry Potter series?

So, don’t hesitate to visit Korčula, the greenest of the Croatian island. Don’t hesitate to invest 60 kuna (about 7.50 euros), and enjoy the historical atmosphere, combined with a perfect acoustic storytelling given through the audio guide (which is included in the ticket price). If you are a Chinese citizen, you enter for free.

Some pictures of inside. Visit the museum and learn more. Experience the pure emotion and historical imagination.

A museum of medieval times
During a Medieval Trip
In the desert…
Pieces of History
During the Marco Polo’s stay in Asia
Monarchs of the East
Find out who was the monarch they met during their trips 🙂
Medieval Footwear
A Croatian footwear factory created a remake of medieval shoes
Battle Venice-Genova, late 13th century
Marco Polo as a Warrior
Tough times…
Marco Polo in the prison
The prisoner
The book in progress.
The book in progress.

The whole concept of Marco Polo museum&shops was created by the young local entrepreneur Rudolf Petrinec. The project started developing in 2006.

In the next blog post, read about the Marco Polo shops.

Notice: I visit museums randomly, the way I visit certain places (towns, cities, regions, countries), and all the opinions are mine. I’m not endorsed by any institution to write specific information or opinions.

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