1403-1406 AD: Ruy Gonzales de Clavijo & Alfonso Paez

Ruy Gonzales de Clavijo
Ruy Gonzales de Clavijo

These were ambassadors of the Spanish King Enrique III de Castilla, sent to the Turco-Mongol conqueror Amur Timur, founder of the Timur Empire. A third envoy by the name Gómez de Salazar travelled with them initially, but he died en route.

The two Spanish embassadors first tavelled from the Mediterranean to Constantinople, then via the Black Sea to Trebizond, and then overland through Tabriz, Balkh and Kesh to reach Samarkand where Amur Timur was.

On their trip back, they passed through Bukhara, an important center of commerce along the Silk Road in Uzbekistan.

Soon after returning to Europe in 1406, Clavijo wrote down an account of his experiences, which became a very important source of information for future travellers along the western section of the Silk Road.

1419-1422 AD: Ghiyathuddin Naqqash

This was an artist sent as an embassador to Beijing in 1419 by the Timurid ruler Shahruhk and his son Prince Mirza. He travelled a route that took him north of the Tarim Basin, through places such as Turfan, Jiayuguan, and Suzhou to get to Beijing. On his way back, he passed through Kashgar.

1435-1439 AD: Pero Tafur

Pero Tafur, an Andalusian native, travelled from Spain to the Eastern Mediterranean and back in the 1430s. Examples of places he visited are Egypt, the Black Sea region, and the declining Constantinople.

1436-1452 and 1473-1479 AD: Giosofat Barbaro

Giosofat BarbaroIn 1436, the merchant Giosofat Barbaro travelled to Tana, located in the delta of the River Don, and he stayed there until the early 1450s. He wrote about his experiences, the Black Sea region in general, and even the distant Muscovy (which he never visited himself).

In 1473, he embarked on a new journey – this time as an ambassador sent to Persia. He stayed in Persia until 1479 and wrote a detailed official report about it.

1466-1472 AD: Afanasii Nikitin

Afanasii Nikitin was a merchant from the Russian city Tver, located along the upper part of the River Volga. He travelled through Persia to India and lived in India for over a year and a half. He died on his way back, not very far from Tver.

In his texts about travelling, Afanassi Nikitin recommended Christian merchants to profess Islamic beliefs while travelling and doing business on the Silk Road.

1474-1477 AD: Ambrogio Contarini

Ambrogio Contarini was a Venetian ambassador to Persia. He travelled through Central Europe, Ukraine, Crimea, and the Caucasus. In Persia, he spent time in placed such as Tabriz and Isfahan.

When it was time to head back home, he travelled via Muscovy and Poland.