In a dreamy seaside setting, this balmy Mediterranean port town lives up to the local saying "a piece of heaven fallen to earth." Under the warm rays of the southern sun, the town's palm-fringed plazas are full of life, and its churches sparkle with brightly colored azulejo domes. As the old capital of the kingdom of Valencia, the city is rich in cultural heritage. Magnificent historic monuments, such as the 15th-century Silk Exchange, the 18th-century Marquise Palace, and the Museum of Fine Arts, tell the story of a wealthy merchant and aristocratic past. Yet Valencia has entered the 21st century with gusto. The sleek Modern Art Institute, along with the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences immerse visitors into a brave new world of artistic and scientific discovery.