Minecraft Nether

The Nether is a treacherous dimension that differs drastically from the vibrant Overworld of Minecraft. It has also been referred to as “The Nexus,” “Hell” and “The Slip” by both developers and the community. Players can only access The Nether by standing in an activated Nether Portal in the Overworld. The Nether is home to several mob types that can’t be found anywhere else. You can run into magma cubes, blazes, zombie pigment and ghasts on your journey through a land filled with lava and fire.

Every location in The Nether corresponds to an exact location in Overworld. For this reason, The Nether is just as infinite as the normal world from which it was generated. The Nether is only limited if game or server limits the size of the Overworld terrain. Players can harvest, move and otherwise interact with blocks and entities in The Nether just like they can in the Overworld, with a few exceptions. If you die in The Nether, your items will fall to the ground and remain there until you go get them, or until the timer expires and they disappear.

Terrain and Environment

The overwhelming majority of The Nether is composed of netherrack, an easily breakable block that makes up most of the naturally generated terrain. Players can also find an abundance of glowstone, soul sand and gravel in The Nether. Nether brick blocks, stairs and fences can be harvested in nether strongholds, which are the counterparts of Overworld strongholds.

There is no water in the Nether. It is never naturally generated there and players cannot dump water contained in buckets in The Nether. Instead of oceans and lakes, The Nether is decorated and illuminated by large pools of lava, which can stretch for hundreds of blocks from shore to shore.

The Nether and Nether Fortress

There is no sky in the Nether. Instead, the dimension is bound by a layer of solid blocks on the top and bottom of the map. The Nether can be likened to a giant, contiguous cavern system. Since neither the sun nor moon shines in The Nether, players do not experience the normal day and night cycle of the Overworld. The entire Nether is lit by an ambient glow that penetrates through all types of blocks. This light allows players to see better, but provides no luminance value for the purpose of block mechanics, like plant growth. The Nether is also illuminated by outcroppings of glowstone, which provide a strong natural light source, and copious amounts of lava.

Blocks and Structures

There are three categories of blocks found in The Nether: naturally generated, naturally created and nether fortress structures. Blocks from all three categories can occur without any player input, but blocks from each category are subject to different spawn restrictions.

Naturally generated blocks are created as the map’s chunks are created from the server’s randomly produced seed. In The Nether, naturally generated blocks include: bedrock, lava source, gravel, brown mushroom, red mushroom, fire, netherrack, soul sand and glowstone block.

A View of The Nether

Naturally created blocks are produced as the direct result of one or more forces that are not influenced by player characters. Naturally created blocks in The Nether include: lava flow, brown mushroom, red mushroom, obsidian and portal texture.

There are also several types of Nether blocks that are coded to spawn in conjunction with nether fortresses. These blocks include: monster spawners, soul sand, nether brick, nether brick fence, nether brick stairs and nether wart.

Nether-Affected Materials

While most blocks, tile entities and tools can be used in The Nether just like they can in the Overworld, there are a few noteworthy exceptions. On survival mode servers, water can’t be placed anywhere in The Nether. This prevents sugar cane from growing at all in The Nether, and makes it difficult to cultivate crops that benefit from a local water supply, like wheat and melons. Players in creative mode can place source water in The Nether.

Grass was unable to grow in The Nether until the recent introduction of enchantments. A “Silk Touch” enchantment on a shovel allows a player to retrieve and place a grassy dirt block without destroying the grass. Players can propagate grass in The Nether by placing one of these blocks next to ordinary dirt blocks. You can also grow trees in The Nether, although it can be tricky to keep them from becoming ignited by ghast fireballs, fire and lava spray.

Nether Mobs

Players can encounter 4 unique mob types in The Nether that do not naturally spawn in the Overworld.

Ghasts: Ghasts are large flying entities that occupy a 4x4x4 area, making them one of the biggest mobs in the game. They have 9 long tentacles that dangle for several block lengths below them. They detect player characters as far as 100 blocks away and will attack them on sight. Ghasts tend to stay a fair distance as they shoot explosive projectiles at the player. The projectiles can be deflected by striking them with a tool, hand or arrow while they are moving.

Zombie Pigmen: These mutant pigs act neutrally towards players unless they are attacked. They have a unique form of “social agro,” so by hitting one you will end up fighting every pigmen within 32 blocks of you. Even if you die and return to The Nether, the pigmen that attacked you will remain aggressive until they are slain.

Blazes: Blazes are able to float in midair, much like ghasts, although their range is much shorter. Blazes attack by shooting a series of 3 fireballs, after which they must wait several seconds before attacking again. Blaze mobs will release smoke and gain a fire texture at the base of their graphic shortly before releasing their projectiles.

Magma Cubes: Perhaps the least threatening mob type in The Nether, magma cubes are a counterpart to slimes in the Overworld. Magma cubes spawn in multiple sizes, just like slimes, and split into smaller versions of themselves before they are killable.

Nether Portals and Fast Travel

In order to enter The Nether, you need to create a Nether Portal by placing obsidian blocks to form a frame with a 2×3 open area in the middle. A 4×5 open rectangle of obsidian is the standard portal design, although the obsidian blocks on the 4 corners of the structure aren’t necessary in order for the portal to work. Once the frame is complete, you can activate the portal by right-clicking the open 2×3 area with a flint and steel. A purple haze will fill the open area of the frame when you successfully activate the Nether Portal.

Nether Portals

Players can traverse the special gap between the Overworld and The Nether by simply standing in the purple portal texture. A loading screen will appear after a few seconds and the player will appear in The Nether. You can also create and activate portals in the Nether, which will create a portal at the corresponding location in the Overworld. Every block in The Nether corresponds to 8 blocks in the Overworld, making fast travel through The Nether a viable option for long-distance transportation.

Players should note that if a ghast’s projectile strikes an activated portal’s opening, the purple haze will disappear. If this happens, the player must reactive the portal with flint and steel, or by luring the ghast into shooting the portal again.


The Nether was first announced in 2010 as a primary feature of the Halloween Update. The announcement was accompanied by a few screenshots and some brief statements referring to The Nether as a “hell world” and the necessity of portals for accessing this alternate dimension. It was only called “The Nether” when it was released in October 2010.

The original Nether received some attention from Minecraft’s developers during the game’s official release in November 2011. The release version, 1.0, introduced magma cubes, blazes, blaze spawners, nether fortresses and other new resources to The Nether.

Interesting Facts

  • The Nether exists in a completely different dimension than the Overworld. Players cannot access The Nether without a portal, even with modifications or in creative mode.
  • Technically, The Nether is made up of one giant “Hell” biome. Players can view this information by pressing F3.
  • Players enter the Nether facing the same direction that they were when they were transported from the Overworld by a portal.

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