The most famous site in the area is the celebrated monastery, Aghia Lavra, where Germanos, the Archbishop of Patras first raised the banner of revolt on 21 March 1821, to signal the beginning of the Greek War of Independence, in the 17th century chapel before the main building. His banner, with a bullet hole in the forehead of an angel in one upper corner, is on display in the museum here. This monastery, which sits among ilex woods and lines of cypresses, was first built as a hermitage in 961, and has a long history of being destroyed and rebuilt, the present monastery begun in 1839, after having been sacked in 1826 by Ibrahim Pasha. Burned by the Nazis along with Kalavryta in 1943 (and since restored) it is much visited in present times and is considered a Greek national shrine. The small museum houses, in addition to the banner of Germanos, various historical relics and medieval manuscripts. The monastery is 9km from Kalavryta, which can be bicycled or walked, though there are also taxis, often waiting at the station as well.
The famous cog/rack and pinion railway with its famous train ride from Diakofto to Kalavryta is also one of the latter town's major attractions. This type of railway, which is the only one of its type in all of Greece, was developed in by an Englishman named John Blenkinsop, and refined by Swiss civil engineers.
It is a system often used in the mountains of Switzerland, enabling trains to ascend very steep stretches which would not be possible otherwise because the trains would not succeed in adhering to the tracks without special help. The help was devised in the form of a cog that drops from the train and fits into a third rail with steel teeth that fits between the usual double train tracks/rails.
The railway in the Peloponnese was built by a French-Italian company between 1885 and 1895, using both the usual kind of adhesion traction and the rack and pinion traction to negotiate the Vouraikos River Canyon. The railway ascends from an altitude of 10km/32feet in Diakofto to 725meters/2378feet during a total distance of 22km/13.64miles. The three sections that utilize the cog system total 3.6km/2.23 miles. Originally the trains were steam driven, but were replaced progressively during the 1960s with a diesel fuelled system.
Some of the old steam engines are on display at the two end points of this dramatic train ride, which includes various suspension bridges and trestles carved out of sheer limestone cliffs. The canyon over which the train passes is unbelievably steep, inspiring amazement that the railway was ever built. The village of Zachlorou , 13km from Diakofto, depends on the train for supplies and is a nice place to stop, with a 4th century Byzantine monastery and a large cave.