Set on the banks of the mighty Congo River, overlooking the sprawling metropolis of Kinshasa across the river in the DRC, Brazzaville is a classic central African city serving as the capital of the Republic of Congo. Brazzaville is by far the prettier and more appealing of these two neighboring cities, with a thriving arts scene, great restaurants, vibrant nightlife, a fascinating colonial heritage, and some fabulously friendly locals. Visitors can look forward to relaxing on the city’s attractive riverside embankment and exploring a number of colorful marketplaces including a lovely candlelit night market. Must-see sights include an interesting national museum; the municipal gardens; the house constructed for Joseph Marie de Gaulle when the city served as the capital of Free France; and the Basilica of St Anne, one of the world’s most beautiful modern churches.

But truly, the heart of a visit to Brazzaville is the Sapeurs. Amidst the chaos and crushing poverty of the region, the Sapeurs of Brazzaville (Republic of the Congo) and Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo) uphold a dignified, extravagant, century-old tradition of dressing like dandies. This subculture of well-dressed men (and a few women) is a sight to behold—and a cultural phenomenon unique to the region. The Sapeur way of life both fascinating and essential to the fabric of these cities and their people.

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