Nightclub fire in Brazil. Relatives mourn the loss of loved ones who perished in the Jan. 28 fire at Kiss nightclub in the southern city of Santa Maria, 187 miles west of the state capital Porto Alegre. The nightclub fire killed at least 242 people and injured over 150 more when a band's pyrotechnics show set the building ablaze. Fleeing partygoers stampeded toward blocked and overcrowded exits in the ensuing panic. It was the second most deadly fire in Brazil’s history. The tragedy highlighted the need for better safety features in Brazilian nightclub and prompted an investigation into whether city leaders and inspectors were negligent in allowing the club to operate. Reuters

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.