Transferring the constructional and technological data of traditional architecture within a three-dimensional model of a historic centre is an opportunity to start reflections on the growth and development of our cultural heritage. Historic centres are living organisms whose qualities are constantly changing. Subjected to the pressures of progress, or to the daily actions of mod- ernization, the character that describes a cultural identity is constantly threatened and, in every transformation, a loss is implicit. A fragment of history disappears forever, in favour of another fragment of history, more recent. Understanding which actions are admissible and produce an improvement and which ones instead damage the significance and value of the place is one of the challenges of urban planning in historic centres. Documentation is, therefore, necessary to draw up a reliable and sufficiently descriptive cognitive picture of the complexities of the landscape. Architectural and urban relief is the discipline that tends towards this goal. Defining the levels of analysis, the necessary homogeneous descriptors and setting up an information system capable of orienting a large database are some of the actions that must be carried out in an attempt to reproduce a model of the city that aims at the narration of places. This contribution intends to describe a research experience promoted within a three-year project for the documentation of the historic centre of Bethlehem.The famous city of the Holy Land has undergone numerous transformations in recent decades, for this reason, the project intends to build a digital duplicate of each building that characterizes the urban fabric to have a management system for the growth and development of the historic centre. Laser scanner detection and photogrammetry activities were carried out to develop a metrically reliable system. From this one, it is possible to build a 3D model of the entire city. Descriptors have been set up for each building, to tell the complexity of the fronts and the different building units. The result is an information system from which to guide the reading of the city, being able to carry out thematic analyzes and critical syntheses useful for managing, controlling and knowing the historical and cultural heritage.
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