When talking about famous explorers, most people mention names like Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, and Vasco de Gama. But the one name you almost never hear is Ibn Battuta. And he might be the greatest explorer of them all.
Who Was Ibn Battuta?
Ibn Battuta was a 14th-century scholar and explorer who spent 30 years of his life traveling. He covered 73,000 miles during his journeys, visiting large parts of Africa, Europe, and Asia. Most impressively, he has done that by mostly traveling on foot or on a camel. For comparison, Marco Polo “only” traveled 15,000 miles.
Ibn Battuta’s Life Story
Ibn Battuta was born into a family of legal scholars in Tangier, a city that is now part of modern Morocco. As a 21-year-old man, in 1325, he decided to embark on the hajj, which is an annual religious pilgrimage taken by Muslims to Mecca. The trip usually takes 16 months, but for Ibn Battuta, it marked the beginning of a trip that would end 30 years later. During his travels, Battuta experienced countless adventures that included him being thrown into prison, working as a religious judge, becoming friends with rulers, being married several times, and even fathering children. He finished his journeys in 1354, returning home and recounting his travels in a book titled A Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Travelling.
Ibn Battuta’s Travels
Ibn Battuta’s explorations had several itineraries. The first itinerary saw him visit North Africa, Iraq, Iran, the Arabian Peninsula, Somalia, and Swahili Coast between 1325 and 1332. Then, between 1332 and 1346, he traveled Black Sea Area, Central Asia, India, South East Asia, and even reached China. Finally, he went through North Africa, Spain, and West Africa in the twilight years of his grand journey.