How To Find An Ancient City In Minecraft

The 1.19 Wild Update for Minecraft added many features to the game, many of which are centered around the Deep Dark biome. As the name suggests, this spooky area generates deep underground and is most notable for the vast, yet uncommon, Ancient Cities it contains.


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Though rare, the Ancient Cities contain numerous exclusive items, so hunting one down and braving the challenge of entering is well worth the risk. Half the battle is getting there in the first place, but fortunately, this guide has everything you need to track down and enter the elusive Ancient City.

Updated October 20, 2023 by Jacqueline Zalace: The Deep Dark can be a scary place; even the bravest of us may fear finding and exploring the skulk-covered Ancient City. We’ve added a bit more information on how to find Ancient Cities, as well as how to flee effectively if the Warden notices your presence.


What Is The Deep Dark Biome?

minecraft deep dark biome

The Deep Dark biome is a biome that generates deep underground and is characterized by having no natural lightning whatsoever, while largely being made up of sculk blocks. This biome is the only place where Ancient Cities can generate.

Finding a Deep Dark biome is the first step in finding an Ancient City, so it’s important to be able to recognize when you’re in one. Deep Dark biomes generate around Y level -52, so head down to that level and start mining or caving until you see sculk.

Once you find a Deep Dark biome, be careful! Warden spawning isn’t limited to Ancient Cities; setting off a Sculk Shrieker anywhere in the Deep Dark can summon a Warden, so be aware of the noises you’re making and keep well clear of any Sculk Sensors or Shriekers.

What Is An Ancient City?

minecraft ancient city tunnel

Ancient Cities are a type of structure that generate within the Deep Dark. They’re quite rare, so not every Deep Dark biome will contain an Ancient City. You won’t really know you’ve come across an Ancient City until you’re actually standing in it.

Ancient Cities occupy massive, Sculk-lined caverns, and are composed primarily of Deepslate. The cities are lit with soul lanterns and the occasional torch, though unlit candles can also be spotted around the structures. Dark oak planks are used for some structures, and wool can also be seen on builds around the city.

While the exact makeup of each Ancient City will vary, the centerpiece will always be a large structure resembling a portal, made of reinforced Deepslate. The portal area is surrounded by two large walls and has an altar-like area with candles in front of it. A sort of main road, covered by a tunnel, runs from the edge of the city to the portal.

This portal cannot be activated in any way, so it doesn’t lead anywhere.

In spite of the dead portal, Ancient Cities are desirable due to the exclusive loot they contain, as well as providing easy access to Sculk blocks. Sculk’s benefits are twofold – Sculk Catalysts are a great way to farm and store XP, while Sculk Sensors enable the creation of wireless redstone contraptions.

How To Find Ancient Cities

minecraft ancient city

Unlike other rare structures which have special maps leading to them, there is no direct way to locate an Ancient City in-game.

All you can really do is head down to a Y-level of negative 52, mine or cave until you find a Deep Dark biome, then hope it has an Ancient City in it.

75 percent of all Ancient Cities spawn within 2,000 blocks of your spawn location, which means that you are bound to find one that is close to you.

What Biomes Do Ancient Cities Appear Under?

Ancient Cities (as well as the Deep Dark Biome) generate more frequently under biomes with low erosion. This is basically mountain and hilly areas, such as Jagged Peaks and Cherry Groves.

If you find a very tall mountain that stretches way past the surrounding area, try mining underneath it!

You will never find the Deep Dark or an Ancient City under oceans, rivers, or swamps.

Finding An Ancient City With Cheat Codes

minecraft ancient city portal structure

If you’re playing with cheats on, you can use the /locate command to find an Ancient City. Below, you can check out the fill command to find an Ancient City.

  • /locate structure minecraft:ancient_city

This will return coordinates for an Ancient City, allowing you to easily find out where to make a beeline. If you don’t feel like navigating all the way there, you can also teleport using a separate cheat code.

Finding An Ancient City With Chunkbase

minecraft chunkbase seedfinder showing ancient city

If you don’t have cheats on, but know your world’s seed and just want the coordinates of the nearest Ancient City, Chunkbase has an Ancient City finder tool you can use. Simply set the tool to the correct version of Minecraft, put in your seed, and the map will show you all the Ancient Cities within your world and their associated coordinates.

Ancient City Loot

minecraft ancient city loot chest swift sneak iii enchanted book

Ancient Cities are littered with chests containing valuables. Below, you can check out some of the notable loot that can be found in an Ancient City, as well as its chance of appearing in a chest. We’ve left out a few items that typical chest loot, such as Leads, Coal, and Bones.

Let’s take a quick look at three of the most important items that may cause you to brave the Deep Dark and explore an Ancient City.

Among all the other enchanted books you can find, there are Swift Sneak books. This enchantment goes up to level three, and is leggings-exclusive. It increases your movement speed when sneaking — useful for quickly navigating around Sculk Sensors in a quiet manner, as well as building without falling off things.

deep dark biome with ancient city

You can also find echo shards, which can be used to craft the Recovery Compass. Unlike a regular compass, this handy item points to the location of your last death, making it easier to go and find the possessions you dropped upon perishing.

Lastly, there are music disc shards. Collect nine of these, and you can craft the music disc “5” – a spooky, “11”-like disc that appears to be audio of a player activating some kind of portal, before the Warden arrives and ruins their plans.

Tips For Exploring Ancient Cities

minecraft ancient city portal

Don’t Tempt The Warden

Once you’ve found an Ancient City, you’ll want to get your hands on all that exciting loot. However, Ancient Cities are packed with Sculk Shriekers that summon the terrifying Warden, as well as Sculk Sensors that can trigger the Shriekers from even further away.

It’s key that you avoid activating these, as once the Warden is summoned, all you can do is run. While this mob can be defeated, it’s quite difficult, especially if you are not prepared.

Take A Potion Of Night Vision

If you don’t want to go in completely blind, we suggest bringing along some Night Vision potions. This will increase the brightness for at least three minutes, but you can extend this to eight minutes while brewing.

To make this potion, you will need to combine a Golden Carrot with an Awkward Potion at a Brewing Stand. With extra Redstone added to the mix, the potion will be stronger.

Stay Crouched & Hidden

Minecraft Warden In The Ancient City Deep Dark Torch

Sculk blocks are activated by noise, so to avoid making any while you move, stay crouched. Similarly, opening a chest produces sound, but you can surround yourself and the chest with wool to avoid triggering any Sculk.

Wool dampens sound, meaning vibrations produced by chests (or anything else) cannot travel through the wool to activate any Sculk, so you can safely open chests.

Use Wool As Scaffolding

Placing and destroying blocks also makes noise, but wool is the exception to this. If you need to pillar up anywhere, use wool to avoid the risk of Shriekers going off. You can also use carpets to line the bottom of the Ancient City, allowing you to walk around without immediately triggering a Warden.

Essentially, just bring plenty of wool, and you should be able to explore the Ancient Cities safely.

How To Avoid The Warden In Ancient Cities

a minecraft warden in a calm state

So, the Warden has noticed you; what now? Thankfully, there are a few measures that you can take to get out safely. Just because he noticed you does not mean that he can see you.

With this in mind, it’s a great idea to bring some snowballs and fire them in a direction opposite to where the Warden is facing. He will notice the snowball hitting the ground, giving you a window of opportunity to escape.

If you have an Elytra, you can quickly fly out of the Deep Dark, leaving the Warden behind. We highly recommend doing this with a Potion of Night Vision though, so you don’t hit a wall and die.

If a Warden does not detect any movement (or smells) for about one minute, he will bury back in the ground and despawn. If you are far enough to be ‘unsmellable’, try to stay perfectly still for a minute. After he buries in the ground, get out of there!

In the brief period of time when the Warden is burrowing, he will not detect any movement, so you can take off running or flying without him noticing.

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