Monday, December 18, 2006

Protected Sites:Ancient Handan City of Zhao State

The Ancient Handan City of the Zhao State is located in Handan City, Hebei Province.

As the capital of the Zhao State in the Warring States Period (475-221BC), Handan City was one of the most prosperous cities of its time. The earliest record of Handan was in the Guliang Commentaries to Spring and Autumn Annals: the city was first the territory belonging to the Wei State, then to the Jin State, and finally to the Zhao State after the Jin was divided up by three states. The city remained the capital of Zhao after Duke Jing moved here in 386BC till Zhao was conquered by the Qin State, lasting 8 generations in 159 years. Historical stories, such as return the jade to the Zhao State , learn how Handan people walk, peace between the general and the prime minister, and besiege Wei to rescue Zhao, all happened during this period.

After careful survey in 1972, the overall arrangement of the city was clear. The city comprised the Duke Zhao City and Dabei City. The Duke Zhao City was the imperial palace, taking the shape of the carpenter's square. Divided into the east, north and west cities, the imperial palace covered an area of 5,120,000 square meters. Traces of the tempered-earth city walls still can be found nowadays, with the remains of 3-8 meters high. The wall base was 16 meters wide, with each of the four sides had 2-3 gates. Built inside the city were tempered-earth constructions arranged in a compact order. The palace, with a symmetrical layout, had primary and secondary constructions. The Longtai, built on the axis line, was the largest and also the main building in the Duke City. With a height of 19 meters, the Longtai was 265 meters wide from east to west, 285 meters long from south to north.

The Dabei City was located in the northeast of the palace. Most city constructions were destroyed and buried underground, and nearly nothing was left on the ground. Taking an irregular rectangular shape, the city was 6,100 meters long from south to north, and 4,000 meters wide from east to west. Workshops, markets and residences scattered in the city. The Dabei City gradually declined after the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD). To its northwest was the mausoleum of the Duke Zhao.

As the capital of the Zhao State, Handan City was then a city with highly developed politics, economy and culture. A number of culture relics and historic sites were kept in the city, such as the platform where Duke Zhao drilled his troops, the Shuzhuang (dress and make up) Building, and the Black Dragon Cave. Many poets and scholars through ages chose to stay here to meditate on the past.

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