The city of Handan is 448 kilometers south of Beijing on the Beijing-Guangzhou Railway Line in southern Hebei Province. It borders Taihang Mountain in the west and faces the Fuyang River in the east. During the Warring States Period more than two thousand years ago, Handan was the capital of the State of Zhao.
Now developing as an industrial city, Handan is one of the steel, coal, and textile centers of China. The world-famous Cizhou kiln is located here; it produces fine chinaware representative of the excellent porcelain made in the north during the Song Dynasty (A.D. 960 - 1279). Its products are exported widely.
Located in the northeastern part of Handan, Congtai Terrace was built 2,300 years ago for Duke Wuling of Zhao State during the Warring States Period (B.C. 325 - 299). It was used for watching military parades and theatrical performances.
In front of the terrace is a boulevard lined with green pines. A flight of stone steps leads to the terrace which is 7 meters high, 59 meters long, and 22 meters wide. East of the terrace is a small chamber called Ruyi Hall which was built in B.C. 198 To the north there is a palace, built for Duke Zhao; to the west, a flight of stone steps on the east of terrace leads to its top, where a pavilion was built in A.D. 1534, the thirteenth year of the rule of Emperor Jiajing of the Ming Dynasty. Not too far to the west of the terrace is a small lake with a pavilion at the center. Northeast of the lake is an ancestral temple dedicated to the memory of "seven wide men," including Lin Xiangru and Lian Po of Zhao State of the Warring States Period.
Congtai and its surrounding area have now been expanded into a park, a famous scenic spot in the city.
"A Millet Dream" (Huangliangmeng) Temple
Ten kilometers north of the city, at Huangliang Village, stands a complex of brilliant ancient buildings covering an area of about 1.5 hectares of land. This large ancestral temple was built almost a thousand years ago. According to an ancient folk legend, a man named Lu Sheng came across a Taoist Priest named Lu Weng when he passed by Handan on his way to attend an imperial examination in the capital. The old Taoist gave him a green porcelain pillow, saying that if Lu Sheng slept with this pillow, his ambitions would be fulfilled. Lu Sheng fell asleep and dreamed of passing the exam and becoming a prime minister, marrying a beautiful wife, and enjoying his life to the utmost. When he awoke, it was only a dream. He had been asleep for such a short time that the innkeepers Huangliang (millet) was barely cooked. Later, a temple was built on this spot and given the name Millet Dream (Haungliangmeng).
On display in Lu Sheng Hall is a stone statue of Lu Sheng lying with his head on a green porcelain pillow. With a smile on his face, he is dreaming his fond dream.
Other places of historical interest in Handan include Empress Wo's Palace (Wohuanggong), Bronze Sparrow Terrace (Tongquetai), and Golden Phoenix Terrace (Jinfengtai).