Exploring the Minecraft Stronghold: What Lies Beneath the Surface

The world of Minecraft is vast and mysterious, filled with an array of wonders, and few places are as awe-inspiring as the hidden Minecraft Stronghold.

Towering beneath the surface like ancient fortresses, these impressive structures offer remarkable adventures and rare loot to those brave enough to venture inside their depths.

Join us on this thrilling journey as we guide you through practical steps for exploring Strongholds, from finding them to unlocking their secrets, revealing chambers full of priceless treasures such as bookshelves with great knowledge waiting to be discovered, and finally activating the legendary portal that will transport us into ‘The End’!

Without further ado, let’s explore what lies underneath!

What are Minecraft Strongholds? 

Strongholds are extensive underground complexes built from mossy stone bricks, stone bricks, and cracked stone bricks, and up to 128 Strongholds can be generated in a world.

Generated by the game itself, they can be tricky to find unless, of course, you know what you’re looking for!

Although each one will vary in shape and size (some may even consist of multiple levels), every Stronghold houses a multitude of rooms filled with valuable resources, such as libraries that contain rare bookshelves; altars with enchanted weapons or armor pieces; storerooms full of supplies like coal ore, iron ingots, redstone dust apples, bread, golden apples, etc., all ready for looting, by brave adventurers willing to take on this challenge!

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But most importantly, within their depths lies the End Portal Room, which will provide access into another realm: The Ender Dragon’s Domain.

How to Find the Stronghold

There are essentially four ways to locate a stronghold in Minecraft. Each way will lead you to the chunk that contains the main staircase, from which the stronghold starts to spawn.

When you get to that chunk, find the [4, x, 4] block within the chunk and start digging down until you reach the staircase.

Starter staircase is always at the 4, x, 4 block inside a chunk
“Starter” staircase is always at the 4, x, 4 block inside a chunk

Following the Eye of Ender

This is the most basic way of finding a Stronghold and how Strongholds were meant to be found, originally.

It all begins with the Eye of Ender, crafted using blaze powder and an ender pearl. This item leads players toward the closest Stronghold when thrown into the air.

To find it, simply follow its path in that general direction! Just ensure you have enough Eye of Enders on hand, as they have a 20% chance to break on every throw.

Trowing an Eye of Ender leads to the nearest Stronghold
Trowing an Eye of Ender leads to the nearest Stronghold

Triangulation Techniques

This method is mostly used by speedrunners. It was the fastest way they could locate strongholds until very recently when calculators were allowed in speedrunning.

By strategically throwing two eyes, we can create an imaginary triangle with their paths.

The way this is done is by using the debug screen (F3):

  1. Throw one Eye of Ender and point your center cross to it.
  2. Watch the angle
  3. Run about 20 blocks, 90 degrees from the direction of the first eye, and throw another eye.
  4. Calculate the difference between the angles.
  5. Divide 1150 by the difference in angles, and you get the distance between you and the stronghold.
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When trying to triangulate, this is the number we should look at
When trying to triangulate, this is the number we should look at

Using an External Calculator

A stronghold location calculator (Ninjabrain, for example) works in an interesting way. By pointing at a very specific pixel, it tries to detect the distance to a stronghold with only one eye throw.

The way it does that is by calculating when the Eye of Ender’s path will lead it to a [4, X, 4] within a chunk. This is the block in which the main staircase generates inside the stronghold, the one the eyes point to.

Locating a Minecraft Stronghold using the Ninjabrain Calculator (taken from the great instrctional video by Four)
Locating a Minecraft Stronghold using the Ninjabrain Calculator (taken from the great instructional video by Four)

Using an External App

You can use online apps to get the exact coordinates of Strongholds.

All it takes is one simple task: enter the seed of your world, and get a map with every stronghold it contains!

There are a few apps that do this. The most famous is Chunk Base.

chunkbase stronghold finder
Chunkbase stronghold finder

What’s Inside the Stronghold?


Sealed away from prying eyes within each Stronghold lies something far greater than any chests full of loot. Libraries are home to vast quantities of knowledge that few have laid their eyes upon before.

As with most Strongholds, however, they vary in size; some consist simply of one floor whilst others offer two floors boasting 233 bookcases containing 699 books.

A library inside a Minecraft Stronghold
A library inside a Minecraft Stronghold

Depending on what resources we need or seek, collecting an entire library or simply a single book can be done easily.

For those seeking to take entire bookshelves, make sure to take a Silk Touch Axe, because otherwise, the bookshelf only drops its books.

Libraries also contain large amounts of cobwebs, useful if you plan on killing the dragon with explosives.

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Portal Room

As we delve deeper into these ancient structures, there is one room that stands out more than any other; housing The End portal, an energized construct of 12 frames (With 0 to 12 Eyes of Enders placed) and guarded by its very own silverfish spawner, it represents both power and potential in equal measure.


At the altars scattered throughout each stronghold, you’ll come across essential supplies and materials needed on our journey.

These may include apples & bread to sustain us as well as a variety of resources from iron ingots/redstone dust & enchanted books to not-so-common treasures such as golden apples!


The storerooms provide additional items for your inventory: sustenance in the form of apples/bread, coal, enchanted books, and, occasionally, iron pickaxes.

How to Activate The Stronghold Portal?

Finally, after looting the Stronghold and looking for the portal room, it’s time to tackle the most important step: activating the portal!

To do this, right-click each frame with an Eye inside until all 12 frames contain an Eye of Ender. The order doesn’t matter, and chances are there is at least 1 Eye of Ender in the frame already.

The portal will activate once all the twelve Eyes of Ender are in place.

A lit portal inside the Minecraft Stronghold
A lit portal inside the Minecraft Stronghold

Final Thoughts

Our expedition into Minecraft’s Strongholds has been nothing short of eye-opening, an experience revealing hidden depths both literally and metaphorically speaking.

And now that our journey is over and the portal is lit, it’s time to beat the Ender Dragon.

See you next time!

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