How To Conquer a Stronghold in Minecraft

Hidden beneath the ground, there lies an abandoned hold waiting to be discovered. The stronghold holds the final key to unlocking the gateway to the End. This article will show you how to find a stronghold in Minecraft and open the End portal.

Strongholds are naturally generated structures that spawn underground in the Overworld. These structures are built to replicate abandoned prisons—showcasing tight cell rooms, dark corridors, and empty hallways. Players can find tons of loot from chests hidden inside the stronghold. Hostile mobs also lurk in every dark corner, so players should come prepared. But amidst this massive structure is a room that is vital in completing the game: the portal room. This room is often hidden inside the walls deep in the stronghold’s core and holds the End portal.

What To Bring To A Stronghold

Going into a stronghold unprepared is like walking into battle without a weapon. You need to bring a full set of armor and weapons to conquer the stronghold as it is the threshold to the End. If you plan on going straight to the End portal, you may need to bring a bit more materials to be ready for the Ender Dragon boss battle. The list given below is only the bare minimum required for the End.

  • Diamond/Netherite Armor: You will need a full set of diamond or netherite armor before walking into a stronghold.
  • Weapon: You will need a diamond or netherite sword, and an enchanted bow and arrow to defend yourself against the hostile mobs inside the stronghold.
  • Eye of Ender: An eye of ender is an item crafted from an ender pearl and blaze powder. The eye of ender is used to track the location of the stronghold and activate the portal. You will need at least 20 to 30 sets of eyes of ender in order to locate the stronghold and open the end portal.
  • Food: Bringing an adequate amount of food items will help with health and hunger recovery greatly.
  • Pickaxe: The stronghold is located underground so having a sturdy pickaxe will help mine out stones and rock formations quicker and easier.
  • Shovel: You will use the shovel to dig dirt blocks faster once you reach the location above the stronghold.
  • Axe: If you want to bring home some books for enchanting, you can use the axe to chop down bookshelves inside the stronghold’s library.
  • Torches: The stronghold consists of dark corridors and hallways so bringing a lot of torches will help light up the stronghold and prevent hostile mobs from randomly spawning.
  • Bed: Always bring a bed to easily set your respawn point anywhere.
  • Crafting Table: You never know when you might need to craft extra materials so it is always better to bring a crafting table just in case.
  • Water Bucket: The water bucket will be used to put out the lava that’s resting just below the end portal. You will need to put it out in case you fall over while placing the eyes of ender in. You can also use the water bucket to prevent fall damage from great heights.
  • Dirt Blocks: Bring at least one 64-set dirt blocks to help you do the nerd pole strategy where you jump up and quickly place a block underneath you to reach higher areas anywhere.

How To Find The Stronghold

  1. Craft an eye of ender. Eyes of ender are used to track the location of the stronghold in the Overworld. To craft an eye of ender, you will need 1 blaze powder and 1 ender pearl. The ender pearl is dropped by an enderman by chance when killed, while blaze powder can be obtained from placing blaze rods in a crafting table. Blaze rods are dropped by blazes that spawn in a Nether Fortress so you will need to travel to the nether in order to obtain two these items. You must craft at least 20 eyes of ender to locate the stronghold and have an additional 12 eyes of ender to activate the end portal.
  2. Once you’ve crafted the eyes of ender, it is time to search for the stronghold. To start, throw one eye of ender by pressing the “Use Item/Place Block” button. The game control for this action will depend of which Minecraft version you are currently playing on:
    Java/Education/Windows 10: Use right click on your mouse to throw the eye of ender.
    Nintendo Switch/Wii U: Press the ZL button to throw the eye of ender.
    PS3/PS4: Press the L2 button to throw the eye of ender.
    Xbox 360/Xbox One: Press the LT button to throw the eye of ender.
    Pocket Edition: Tap the screen to throw the eye of ender.
  3. The eye of ender will float into the sky, pointing in the direction of the stronghold, and will fall back down for you to pick up. However, there is a 20% chance that the eye of ender will break everytime you throw it so you need to make sure you crafted enough eyes of ender to last you until the stronghold.
  4. The eye of ender will continue floating up when thrown until it reaches the location of the stronghold. When the eye of ender floats downwards, it means you are now above the stronghold.
  5. Once you’ve reached the location above the stronghold, it is time to dig down. Use a shovel and dig past the dirt and mine a few stones with a pickaxe along the way until you reach the entrance. When you’ve reached the stronghold, you will start seeing infested stone bricks instead of stone and dirt.
  6. Mine the stone bricks with a pickaxe until you find an opening to the stronghold. You may try mining around the stone bricks or simply dig down until you find an entrance.
  7. Once you find an entrance to the stronghold, you can now explore every corridor and room for chests and loot until you find the portal room.

Mobs That Spawn Inside The Stronghold

A stronghold is a place like any other in Minecraft’s Overworld. Due to long dark corridors and hallways, hostile mobs will constantly spawn here. You will need to bring quite a few torches with you if you plan to light the place up and prevent more hostile mobs from spawning. There are a few mobs that spawn inside the stronghold so let’s take a look at each one:

  • Zombies: Common undead hostile mobs that use melee attacks and often come in hordes.
  • Skeletons: Undead hostile mobs equipped with a bow and arrow.
  • Creepers: Hostile mobs that silently approach the player and explode, dealing damage in a wide area.
  • Spiders: Neutral mobs that have the ability to climb walls and will only attack the player when attacked or the light level around them is 11 or less.
  • Silverfish: Small hostile mobs that crawl on land and attack the player in groups. You will find a few silverfish roaming around corridors and inside the portal room.

Loot Inside Chests In A Stronghold

Inside the stronghold, you will encounter various chests placed randomly in each room and corridor. These chests contain valuable loot randomly generated based on a certain percentage. The chests are located within altars, storerooms, and libraries. Below is a table detailing the chance of each item spawning in a stronghold loot chest.


Apple 1-3 33.5% 1599
Bread 1-3 33.5% 1599
Iron Ingot 1-5 23.3% 1099
Ender Pearl 1 23.3% 1099
Redstone Dust 4-9 12.1% 599
Gold Ingot 1-3 12.1% 599
Iron Pickaxe 1 12.1% 599
Iron Sword 1 12.1% 599
Iron Helmet 1 12.1% 599
Iron Chestplate 1 12.1% 599
Iron Leggings 1 12.1% 599
Iron Boots 1 12.1% 599
Diamond 1-3 7.4% 399
Enchanted Book 1 2.5% 199
Saddle 1 2.5% 199
Iron Horse Armor 1 2.5% 199
Golden Apple 1 2.5% 199
Golden Horse Armor 1 2.5% 199
Diamond Horse Armor 1 2.5% 199


Apple 1-3 47.5% 1562
Bread 1-3 47.5% 1562
Coal 3-8 34.3% 1062
Iron Ingot 1-5 34.3% 1062
Redstone Dust 4-9 18.6% 562
Gold Ingot 1-3 18.6% 562
Enchanted Book 1 4.0% 162
Iron Pickaxe 1 4.0% 162


Paper 2-7 205 89.2%
Book 1-3 2052 89.2%
Enchanted Book 1 1052 67.8%
Compass 1 152 10.9%
Empty Map 1 152 10.9%

Rooms Inside The Stronghold

There are various rooms through the stronghold. Each room features an entrance, either a plain opening, a wooden door, or an iron door with a button to open it. Each room may also have “exits” that connect to a long corridor, an actual room, or a dead end. Here are the various rooms that generate inside a stronghold:

Five-way Crossing

The five-way crossing room has up to five exits: one on the upper left side of the room, one on the upper right side of the room, one on the left side of the main floor, usually down a corridor, one across from the entrance down a short stairway, and one on the right side of the main floor (six exits if you include the entrance). This room does not contain any chest and may contain multiple dead ends depending on each door.

Empty Prison Cells

Empty prison cells are long corridors that feature two iron doors on one side of the room and iron bars in between them. Entrances and exits are on the left and right sides, respectively. These rooms usually contain hostile mobs due to a lack of lighting in the area.

Large Rooms

Large rooms usually contain three exit ways (four exits if you include the entrance). Each stronghold structure can generate up to 6 large rooms. The centerpiece decoration of each large room may vary randomly based on world generation: an empty room, a stone pillar room, a fountain room, and a storeroom.


Strongholds can generate up to 2 libraries per structure. Some libraries may contain a second floor, while some may not. Libraries also contain various loot via chests hidden on top of some bookshelves. A two-story library will have 233 bookshelves respectively—each giving you a total of 699 books when broken with an ax.

End Portal Room

The end portal room contains an end portal and a silverfish spawner in the middle. It contains three pools of lava—two of which can be found on either side of the room and one large pool just below the end portal. The portal contains 12 end portal frames, and each has a 10% chance to generate with an eye of ender.

How To Activate The End Portal

The end portal is a portal that teleports the player to the End—an alternate dimension in Minecraft that is inhabited by endermen, shulkers, and the Ender Dragon. It is only located inside the portal room of a stronghold. To gain access to the End, the player must first activate the end portal. Activating the end portal will require a total of 12 eyes of ender that are crafted by combining an ender pearl and a blaze powder on a crafting table. By chance, some end portal frames may generate with an eye of ender already installed.

  1. Before activating the portal, you must either destroy the silverfish spawner or place torches around each side to prevent more silverfish from spawning and attacking you while you attempt to place the eyes of ender inside the frames.
  2. You can put out the lava underneath the portal frame by pouring a water bucket on it. This will turn the lava into obsidian thereby making it safer to traverse should you fall.
  3. Now that you have taken care of the silverfish spawner and the lava, you can safely activate the portal. To start, place one eye of ender in each empty end portal frame slot. Do this until you complete the 12 end portal frame slots.
  4. Once you’ve placed the final eye of ender in, the portal will immediately activate. You will see dark space-like blocks covering the center of the portal upon activation. The portal will stay active even if the portal frames are broken.

Now that you have activated the end portal jumping in will immediately teleport you to the End. Remember to think twice before venturing into the End, as there is no way to leave the End prematurely. The only way you can leave that dimension will either be to kill the ender dragon and use the exit portal that will spawn upon her death or die and reset back in the Overworld. You cannot place a bed or a respawn anchor to set your respawn point in the End. Doing so will immediately create an explosion around the area, dealing massive damage. Ultimately, your only choice upon reaching the End will be to defeat the Ender Dragon and free the End from its oppression. So be prepared and gear up for your final battle in Minecraft.

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