Recently I have been spending a bit of time over at the Cartographers Guild, a forum for those interested in mapmaking, primarilly for role playing games, or just for art's sake. There was a thread posted about the feasibility of taking a semi-realistic map and rendering it in 3D using a height-field.
I decided to give it a go, using a map I had drawn following a provided tutorial. I turned the map into a greyscale heightfile, and rendered it using The Persistence of Vision Raytracer with the original map art as an image map. My initial result was an image that looked pretty good:
Height Field - Initial Test
Then someone said "Hey, I remember using POVRay...It can do animations, right?" So I figured I'd have to give it a go...