From the Brazil nightclub fire in January that claimed hundreds of lives to China’s first landing of a lunar rover on the moon just a few weeks ago, 2013 was marked by great tragedy as well as great achievement.

Among many things, this year saw the rise of Bitcoin, the digital currency that some have argued might be the future of global commerce. For the first time, scientists were able to clone human stem cells, giving rise to the idea that stem cell research could lead to the growing of human tissue like muscles and nerves. The year 2013 also witnessed the first resignation by a pope in nearly 600 years.

Here’s a look back at 2013 in photos and a few of the events that shaped the past 12 months.